“What’s the Best Firearm for Defense?”
I get this question all the time because those who know me know I carry almost all the time; I have been professionally concealed-carrying for over 30 years in federal law enforcement (USAF Security Police, and then US Secret Service and Federal Air Marshal Service— who are some of the best concealed carriers!). I almost always carry off-duty which is where I’ve used my firearm more often than on-duty— and every time I’ve drawn, thank God the bad guy backed down before I had to shoot! I’ve concealed-carried so much over the last 30 years for work, if you look my right side hip, there’s a permanent impression of a Sig Sauer 229! Just kidding… but only a little.
If you are a “gun guy/gal” and are a gear snob, let me ask you this, what firearm is “better?” What firearm would win in a gunfight?
As a former U.S. Air Marshal, we knew the case study of El Al Flight 432 where one Israeli Air Marshal, Mordechai Rahamim, illegally (according to the Swiss after they prosecuted and acquitted him) carrying only a mere Berretta pistol in .22 caliber fought off three terrorists with AK-47’s, grenades, and dynamite! He protected all of the planes passengers and even killed the terrorist ringleader. For Mordechai, the best defensive handgun was the one he had. The Israeli’s issued that .22 pistol because they weren’t sure how a fuselage at altitude would react to gunfire; it was maximally concealable; but it become the BEST when Mordechai Rahamim trained to be the best with it.
So after over 30 years experience, here’s my answer: whatever caliber, make, and model firearm, that you decide, you train with, and you actually have on you at the moment you need it, that firearm is the best firearm for defense! Carrying and relying on a firearm makes that tool into a weapon, but it becomes the BEST tool when you become the best— when you become “a complete unit.”
When someone asks you this question of “What’s the Best Firearm?" give them this answer: “The one I carry. With my trusty [insert name of firearm] I feel like one complete unit.”
The Sig Sauer 229 was the best because I felt— I knew— I was a complete fighting unit. These days, in my board shorts mowing the lawn, my Sig Sauer 232 chambered in 380ACP is “the best.” The underlying reasons are what’s important. They don’t even make the 232 anymore, so where does that leave you?
I was issued my Sig Sauer 229 by the Secret Service and later the Federal Air Marshal Service. We didn’t get to choose our firearm, so we had to be the master of the gun whether we liked the tool or not. Some hated it. Some loved it. I’ve been in the game long enough to stop having an opinion on gear. As the old stock car racing saying goes, “you run whatchu brung.” I couldn’t worry about what guns the government spent taxpayer money on and gave to us; I could only afford to concern myself about my training with my issued gear. I had to change myself, because I couldn’t change the gun.
Before the Sig Sauer 229 autoloading pistol, we were issued the Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolver. That gun was at times the WORST for defense. [Side note: the Secret Service stopped issuing revolvers for Secret Service Officers and Agents in early 1992! I am not old!] While some loved their Model 10's, FOR MANY it was the worst because it was:
too difficult to conceal when needed
too difficult to carry spare ammunition for
too long barreled for ease of draw
too easy to just leave at home or at the desk on-duty
Because many didn’t want to train with it, carry it, or trust it to get them through a gunfight, those revolvers were THE WORST. The Model 10 is a great firearm, but it’s all about the person, not the gun. Plus, technology at the time had not caught up to women, especially for holsters. The same can be said of some firearms and companies today. Data on gunfights was pouring in and showed that many were having difficulty reloading their revolvers under fire. As a result, many officers felt like incomplete units them and started carrying personal firearms without permission. And yet, many officers trained to be the best and there were also case studies of wins too— so what are you to make of that in finding becoming a complete unit?
A firearm is a tool, not a weapon, like a hole-puncher or a hammer. A firearm only becomes a weapon once we use it against a human being or an animal. 99.99…9% of what all of firearms do is no different than office hole punchers except firearms punch holes in paper at a distance. But for that 00.00…1% when we call upon a tool to punch holes in an attacker to stop an attacker, you best have mastered that weapon to the greatest extent and have it on you or near you.
A gun is a tool but it becomes a defensive weapon when you put it on your hip or by your bedside safe but it only becomes the BEST weapon after you:
learn how it works normally, how it malfunctions, and how to clear malfunctions. If your gun doesn’t malfunction, train drills to simulate different types of malfunctions.
Shoot hundreds and hundreds of rounds thought it for reliability testing.
Shoot it how you might be required to use it in an actual defensive situation:
One handed, dominant and non-dominant
Reload efficiently and smoothly.
Master external safeties
Test and get comfortable with a proper quality holster
(for autoloaders) Carry with full magazine and with one round in the chamber. It’s a myth that modern autoloading firearms should have less ammo in the magazine than they are designed to carry.
Also, don't be afraid of revolvers. They can be stupendous assets. While they can “seize” (unlike an autoloader which “jams”), seizures or revolvers are extremely rare and usually due to poor maintenance and abuse. Revolvers are extremely reliable, accurate, safe, and simple in use, and are ideal for those with less fine motor skills or who have neuropathy or other hand issues. Plus they can carry larger calibers for larger opponents. Additionally, the biggest upside to revolvers for concealed carry is they can be pressed up against an attacker whereas doing so with an autoloader might put that firearm out of battery and cause the autoloader to malfunction or be unable to fire.
Ask yourself, would you rather have a Navy Seal with a .22 rifle or a no-thing with the latest space age rifle? I want the Navy Seal with the .22 rifle on my team!
So again, the best firearm for defense is the one that makes you a complete unit. Now the question is what are you doing to become that complete unit?
Let me know what guns, gear, training drills, and training tools are making you a complete unit on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.
Be safe. Have fun. Protect others.