Ben Findley’s 10 Criteria and Factors for Evaluating Any Handgun

1. Accuracy and Reliability– Performs well without reoccurring malfunctions and stoppages; results are consistent, accurate target hits with a 3″ inch hit group maximum or less at 5-20 yards for concealed carry; 

2. Trigger Press maximum of about 5.5-6.5 pounds (4.5 to 5.5 pounds for concealed carry) – lessens force applied for less movement & better accuracy; press that is crisp and identifiable (TRAIN to be Trigger Safe); 

3. Trigger with short travel distance (a short travel distance increases the speed the trigger can be fired) and easily identifiable and short reset point; Trigger with a smooth consistent press for every shot (less need to transition between presses & make adjustments);

4. Barrel length of 3.0″- 4.5″ for primary concealed carry gun; 3.0″- 3.5″ for subcompacts; 2.70″ – 3.6″ for concealed carry of .380; tight lockup for barrel-slide fit; consider ammo choice & that longer sight radius & longer barrel allow gunpowder to burn longer for higher velocity, less bullet drop & more harder impact;

5.  Sights that are basic & simple (easy to use & see – I like Fiber Optic fronts); fast target acquisition; for my purposes – adjustable for windage; Night Sights for low-light situations;

6. Proper Gun Weight to minimize felt recoil & muzzle rise (I prefer 25 oz. or so for carry – but there are tradeoffs); consider physical stature & gun weight relationship & indexing speed from target to target;

7. Caliber match to my needs, characteristics & abilities (consider medical & physical limitations); 9mm is my preference for my primary carry gun but sometimes carry a .45 ACP and consider .380 ACP for Backup Gun/BUG;

8. Capacity – adequate for use & feature tradeoffs – usually prefer at least 9-10 rounds or so for 9mm compact,  7-8 rounds for .45ACP for concealed carry, and 7 rounds or so (for subcompact) in a .380 magazine for carry or BUG (but can carry a spare mag or 2 sometimes);

9. Ergonomics – Hand Comfort and Grip Fit; controls easy to work and easily accessible; rounded, low-profile; comfortable & attainable trigger reach; proper grip angle so no grip shift; good gripping surfaces;

10. Miscellaneous – Overall Finish, fit, & quality appearance & workmanship; mag release location & function to drop mags freely; ambidextrous controls; accessory rail as required; grip angle; bore axis; competitive market price; excellent customer service with friendly & helpful representatives; ease of disassembly-assembly; lockable Hard Case; want at least 2 mags for concealed carry; Extras (like a third mag, holster, pouch, extended & flush mags); warranty length & extent; safety factors, etc.

NOTE: You make your own tradeoffs according to your personal goals, priorities, preferences, needs, and use, but take a total system perspective and recognize that there are several overall and personal features, characteristics, and pros and cons to include and then consider them.

Additional criteria and considerations are offered in Col Ben’s book “Concealed Carry and Handgun Essentials for Personal Protection” available on his website at

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