When choosing your own personal handgun there are many things you should take in to consideration. First, determine your purpose for purchasing a handgun. Is it for target shooting, is it for your home, or is it to carry? There are many different handguns in many different calibers and many different sizes that can be used for different reasons.
A 22 caliber pistol or revolver will have the least amount of recoil and the least amount of stopping power. However, if target shooting is your goal, some of the 22 semi-autos such as Ruger, Browning, or Beretta with the 4 to 6 inch barrels are the most accurate and most fun to shoot. They are also the cheapest to shoot because 22 long rifle ammunition is less expensive to buy than any other ammunition out there.
The next step up would be a 380 semi-auto or 38 revolver. These are typically carry guns and are made in air weight versions and small so they are easy to carry and conceal. These guns are typically not comfortable shooting guns, which will discourage target shooting. Ammo is also more expensive. However, it is imperative that if you are going to carry a handgun that you shoot that handgun often enough to shoot it accurately and be very familiar with its operation. Remember that under duress you will only be 20% as fast and accurate with your handgun as you are on your best day at the range. Also, remember that these guns are very good for serving the purpose they were made for and this is to carry, conceal, and use only when absolutely necessary.
9mm & 40 caliber handguns come next on the list with a 40 caliber being more powerful than a 9mm. Companies are now offering these guns in compact and sub-compact lightweight models as well. Just remember, the lighter the gun the harder the recoil. There are many 9s & 40s that are quite comfortable to shoot depending on the size of the gun. The S&W M&P is quite a nice gun to shoot in both calibers and fairly reasonably priced. Also Springfield Amory makes a very nice gun in these calibers and this company is quite often overlooked in the gun case. It should not be. They make an excellent gun with excellent safety features and that are comfortable to shoot.
357 revolvers are excellent guns with a good amount of power. These are good multi-purpose guns that can be used for different reasons. They do however pack a punch. With a 357 heavier is definitely better. One benefit of a 357 is that you can shoot a 38 round through it. This means you can buy less expensive less recoil 38 rounds to target practice with and then only use 357 rounds when carrying for other purposes. This is a great benefit to owning a 357 revolver
Moving up to a 45 caliber, you have your most powerful caliber carry gun. Again more power and lighter weight equals more recoil. Many companies also offer sub-compact, compact, and full size guns in a 45 caliber. It is also offered in revolvers. One of the newest and best selling revolvers is the Taurus Judge that will shoot a 45 long colt or .410 shotgun round. This gun is usually big and heavy enough to absorb a lot of the recoil and is not as unpleasant to shoot as one might think. The Taurus Judge is an excellent home defense and snake gun.
The above mentioned calibers are the most common caliber smaller handguns that you see in today’s market. There are other calibers available in semi-autos and revolvers. The main thing is to determine your primary use for your gun and base your buying decision on that factor. In some cases, you may need more than one gun. I can almost guarantee that if you purchase a gun that is not comfortable to shoot, you will want to purchase another one that is. Owning a gun is making a commitment to the proper care and use of one. In order to use it properly you will need to practice, practice, practice! In some cases you can marry up a target gun to a carry gun and use your target gun when you practice. A good example of this would be a Walther P22 to practice and a Walther PK380 to carry. They have the same exact body style, function the same way, and are the same size, The difference is it costs you a lot less money to practice with the 22 than the 380 and there is little to no recoil with the 22. Another example would be to purchase and air weight 38 for carry and a steel 38 for practice. You spend the same money on ammo but I promise the steel heavier 38 is much more fun and comfortable to shoot, but maybe not as easy to carry. You can also, as I mentioned earlier, purchase a 357 and shoot 38 rounds through it for practice and put 357 rounds in it to carry.
When it comes to handguns there are lots of options and there is no one better to help you with those options than your friendly Bass Pro hunting staff. Stop on by the gun counter, see what’s in the cases, and ask us all the questions you want. We are more than happy to help you and want to see you make the right choice and purchase for you! We can help with picking out ammo and accessories as well. Come see me, Cindy Gose, and all the guys in hunting and let us show you your handgun options!