What Gun To Purchase: Consider the 9mm Pistol for Self-Defense?

What Gun To Purchase: Consider the 9mm Pistol for Self-Defense?
What Gun To Purchase: Consider the 9mm Pistol for Self-Defense?
What Gun To Purchase: Consider the 9mm Pistol for Self-Defense?
What Gun To Purchase: Consider the 9mm Pistol for Self-Defense?

Most of you have probably already made your decision about what gun and caliber to carry or to use for self defense, but for those of you who have not and for those of you wavering due to the high cost of ammo and other considerations, I want to offer my personal ideas about my decisions and what works for me. Just my opinions. They may not work for you, but just consider them. I am frequently asked by students about what gun to purchase and what ammo to buy for self-defense purposes. Should it be a semi-automatic pistol or a revolver? Should I buy a 9mm Pistol for self-defense purposes? Should I shoot 115 grain, 124 grain, or 147 grain loads? These questions are like asking what kind of car to buy, what kind of refrigerator to buy, or whether to drink Pepsi or Coca Cola. Everyone has an opinion, preferences, and influences from experiences of a friend or family member or their own limited personal observations. Some like white cars, while others like red cars. Some prefer several extra accessories or options; others do not. So, IT DEPENDS on your likes and dislikes, features desired, uses, your hand and finger size, lifestyle dress, and personal preferences. All options have pros and cons, limitations and advantages. So, the only opinion and decision that really matters is yours, since you must “live or die” with your decision and your life or the lives of your loved ones may very well depend on it. It is a very individualistic choice among many nice options, with you selecting features you want that match your PURPOSE and USE… and LIFESTYLE. You might even have two or three uses (e.g. concealed carry or home defense) with each purpose having a different gun that meets each requirement or manner of dress. Sadly (for my spouse and our budget), there is NOT one universal gun that meets ALL uses and purposes, but this is an excuse (sorry– justification) for having more than one gun. The pistol you carry concealed might be smaller, weigh less, not have a light attached, not be so wide, be capable of being carried “cocked and locked,” and hold fewer rounds than the gun you use for home defense or the one you use for competitive target shooting or the one you hunt with, etc. You make trade-offs among easy concealability, firepower, features, and other very personal criteria.

Here are some thoughts about the revolver as compared to the semi-automatic pistol. Of course, opinions and preferences differ and there are different models of pistols and revolvers with other considerations.


  1. Thinner without a cylinder, so usually more concealable
  2. Holds more cartridges, about 15 on average per magazine capacity
  3. Faster speed of reloading with already loaded magazines; saves time with no inserting cartridges in each of 5 or 6 chambers on average; only has one chamber
  4. Generally, more accessories available, e.g. holsters, pouches, etc.
  5. Rugged finishes with almost indestructible modern materials


  1. More mechanicals to operate, e.g. slide, slide lock lever, external safety (sometimes)
  2. Inoperable until clear malfunctions or stoppages (must know clearance drills)


  1. Simple to operate with fewer functions
  2. Great reliability with less mechanicals
  3. Usually less expensive to purchase
  4. Fewer moving parts, so less sensitive to lack of cleaning/maintenance


  1. Holds less rounds on average (5 or 6) versus pistol average (15 for 9mm)
  2. Must reload more often- more time involved
  3. Reloading requires practice and is dexterous operation
  4. Even speed reloader or strip require much practice to put a round in each of 5 or 6 (or more) chambers
  5. Not as rugged GENERALLY regarding grit and grime (and for some finishes.)

For me personally, and I am not attempting to influence your personal decision, I consider a 9mm (“Nine”) adequate for my self defense, especially for concealed carry purposes. While I sincerely appreciate larger caliber cartridges and have several guns in large calibers, they are not my personal primary choice for carry. I do, however, carry a custom compact .45 sometimes. No one should criticize me nor demean me for my decision, since it is not their decision, their life is not at stake, they don’t frequent the type of places or locations that I usually frequent, they aren’t buying the gun or my ammo, nor shooting it for my purpose. Again, this is a very personal and individualistic choice for your goals and preferences.

So why did I make the decision to carry a “Nine?” My main self-defense purpose is to be prepared (just in case ) for a (highly unlikely- low probability) encounter with a bad perpetrator-aggressor that intends to do me grave, serious bodily harm or imminent death. If this situation occurs, I want my muscle memory to automatically kick-in and to be able to hit what I’m shooting at with accuracy and to be able to do so more than one time… to have the reliability of about 3 consistent, consecutive hits. Because of who I am, with my carpal tunnel wrist, aging eyesight, condition, etc., I find that the less movement I have and the less recoil I experience, the much more accurate I can shoot quickly. Yes, I can handle the recoil of a .40 or .45, but I have to practice so much more with them to be accurate. If you miss your target, does it matter what the caliber was? I find that with a 9mm I can be about twice as accurate with half the practice time and half the ammo cost at the Range. This encourages me to practice more. A “Nine’s” recoil is very manageable for just about everyone. I like the 15 or 17-shot capacity of the 9mm over the 7 or 8 shots of a .45 and over the 5 or 6 shots of most revolvers. If you are likely to encounter multiple attackers or need shots to reposition yourself, the higher capacity is a huge plus. The “nine” has been around for many years and like any OTHER CALIBER or cartridge, it has its bandwagon of followers, as well as those who discredit its capability.

Safely PRACTICE shooting and handling the “nine” or any firearm with a certified, professional firearms instructor. Take time for the TRAINING, as early as possible in your life, so you don’t have to unlearn inferior techniques, tactics, and fundamentals and then learn optimal ones. Learn the basics of proper grip, stance, aiming, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, breath control, and follow-up, accuracy techniques, defensive tactics, use of deadly force, when and when not to shoot, and legal considerations. These are of primary importance, not the equipment you use, be it a 9mm or .45 or semi-automatic or revolver. The key is Shot Placement and that means professional TRAINING and PRACTICE. You could own the biggest, most expensive, high caliber and precision gun in the world, but if you don’t know how to shoot it accurately, it won’t do you any good. Also, like any other machine, a gun is useless or dangerous if it is not used correctly within its capabilities.

What makes a good self-defense load or round?
What makes a good self-defense load or round?

A question that I am frequently asked is “What makes a good self-defense load or round?” Velocity seems to be a main factor for a lot of shooters when they decide to select their firearm ammo. Some tend to gravitate towards +P or even +P+ loads. Velocity is not always the best or only criterion when deciding among a “fast” 127gr +P+, 147gr, or 124gr load in 9mm, for example. Another consideration is the ability to control the follow-up shot. If you have two loads which both perform about the same, you might consider going to the slow/heavy bullet due to the fact that the slower and heavier load is more easily controlled. Heavier bullets usually hit higher on the target. Remember, muzzle energy means more power and more movement, which affects control and accuracy.

I believe in the F.B.I and respect them and their studies about what makes a good self-defense load. My Dad worked with them. To meet their requirements, the F.B.I. requires:

  1. At least 12″ of PENETRATION by a bullet in properly-prepared ballistic gelatin/soft tissue, and bullet
  2. EXPANSION to the largest diameter possible in order to cause the largest possible wound channel.

I recommend Hollow Points as a good self-defense round. They are sold in different weights, with and without jackets, but all of them have a cavity in the tip (a Hollow Point like in the picture below) which helps them expand when they hit a human or target. This expansion serves two important purposes in a self-defense gun: it causes more energy transfer and more damage to the attacker (which helps to stop the bad guy quickly) and it keeps the bullet from passing through the attacker (through-and-through penetration) and hitting an innocent person, which can happen easily with other types of bullets, e.g. non-Hollow Points and Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) rounds.

So, with proper HOLLOW POINT and 124-125 grain ammo, a 9mm will work fine for defense, since it meets these two F.B.I. criteria. Recognize that some guns perform better with high pressure loads or bigger grains, while some don’t. Each gun will perform differently with different loads, so be sure and try different grains or load weights. It is my opinion that the 9mm by its design seems to perform better with 124 or 125 grain ammo, NOT the 115 grain. This is certainly true for me and my pistols. However, I do use 115 grain FMJ (Ball) ammo for plinking and practice sometimes. I believe it’s best to use the same weight bullet for practice as the ones you will use for self-defense encounters. That way you can get accustomed to the recoil and your target impact points will be nearly alike. This is not absolutely mandatory all the time, but I do recommend it often.

For self and home defense, you should probably switch from using FMJ (Ball ammo) to Jacketed Hollow Points (JHPs.) Hollow Points leave a bigger exit wound and in that rare instance of use for your defense, you want to induce as MUCH TRAUMA as possible, because your life depends on it. Recognize that both .45 and 9mm bullets penetrate skin and bone, so both are more than enough for Self-Defense purpose.

Smith & Wesson M&P Compact 9mm
Smith & Wesson M&P Compact 9mm

Some say that the knock-down power of calibers is most important, so a .45 or larger caliber should always be used. The critical question here is not which caliber has “better” stopping power, but rather does the 9 mm have “sufficient” stopping power. Recall above I said that accurate shot placement is very important. If you shoot someone, you seldom shoot them with just one round. You put enough rounds in them to stop them from being a threat to you… to STOP them, not necessarily kill them. With my experience and accuracy in firing various calibers, I know that I am much more accurate with my 9mms than with my .40s or .45s, etc. I can usually get 5 out of five on a 9 inch target at 15 yards with my “nines,” whereas with my .45s I can get 2 or 3 of five on a 9 inch target at that distance. I understand that practice greatly affects this. Whatever you shoot the most of is what you will get proficient with. Also, recognize that aggressors on drugs may not feel the hits and keep advancing toward you. So I plan on shooting 3 well-placed rounds and getting all 3 on target with my 9mm, vis-a-vis getting fewer hits with my .45. The best caliber is the one YOU can shoot accurately under ALL conditions. A 9mm or .45 caliber hole in the heart/lungs or head are probably equally deadly. Some say Beginners discuss the perfect Caliber; Amateurs discuss the perfect Gun; and Pros discuss ACCURACY, TRAINING, and PRACTICE.

A recent, random statistical study of 529 respondents to a GunReports.com survey question “Is the 9mm suitable for self defense?” showed a strong 88% preference for the 9mm round. There were 467 “Yes” votes for the 9mm and 62 “No” votes. Several respondents added a qualified comment that the correct ammo (124 to 147 grain hollow point factory loads with a speed of between 1150 to 1200 ft/sec.) should be used with the 9mm for self defense.

Springfield Armory EMP 9mm
Springfield Armory EMP 9mm

Usually for a first pistol for self-defense, I would recommend a 9mm made by a major manufacturer and 124-grain JHP ammo. Again, 115 grain FMJ 9mm ammo is fine for practice and plinking. The price difference in ammo will allow you to spend more time in Training, which for most means better comfort, accuracy, and proficiency. The best gun accessory you can buy is a pallet of practice ammo. I believe ACCURACY is much more important than EQUIPMENT or caliber!

Don’t skimp and use cheap commercial ammunition or reloads. They may have low-performance bullets, light target-shooting powder charges, or substandard cases or primers that could cause misfires or other problems. Also, do not use your friend’s extra-deadly self-defense handloads or reloads. First, hand-loading by fallible individuals means you might have split cases, loose crimps, high powder charges, low powder charges, zero powder charges, loose primers, or oil-contaminated primers — any one of which could spell disaster in a critical self-defense encounter. So, buy brandname jacketed hollowpoint (JHP) ammunition designed for self-defense, such as Federal Hydra-Shok, Remington Golden Saber, Speer Gold Dot, or Winchester Silvertip. So you will feel reassured when you press the trigger, the gun will fire and the bullet will perform as necessary.

Ruger SR9
Ruger SR9

Of course, I strongly recommend participating in a Fundamentals of Firearms Safety and Shooting Class under the guidance of a professional and certified instructor, especially before you purchase your self-defense gun. This will help you learn the correct basics of safe gun handling and use so you don’t have to overcome and unlearn bad habits later and relearn proper fundamentals. Also, you can shoot various types and calibers of guns to help you make your purchase decision. It will enhance your techniques, tactics, and understanding and help you be a more accurate shooter to defend your live and the lives of your loved ones. A small investment for a big payoff!


* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and a certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.

© 2013 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.
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"Col Ben" is retired with 30 years service in the U.S. Air Force, with joint services Special Ops duty and training, and is Air Force qualified as "Expert" in small arms. He is a Vietnam-era Veteran. Ben is an experienced NRA-Certified Pistol Instructor, NRA Range Safety Officer, and FL Concealed Carry License Instructor. Ben recently wrote the book "Concealed Carry and Handgun Essentials for Personal Protection" (second printing) with 57 comprehensive Chapters about concealed carry and handgun principles, techniques, and tips for both experienced and new shooters. His reference book is endorsed by several organizations and is available on his website at FloridaHandgunsTraining.com. Contact him at ColBFF@gmail.com.
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al cram

Nice article. I carry a 9mm for the reasons listed. Easier to conceal, less expensive than my 45 cal to provide practice ammo, so I shoot it much more often at the range, and I have the very nice “Laser Ammo” for dry practice at home when drawing from concealment. Two center mass hits from a 9mm will discourage anyone from continuing the fight, and there is the accurate head shot for the very few that might be the exception to that rule.


With all do respect, In a gun fight you will be only 50% as good as your best day on the range.

Any gun is better then no gun, however, range targets don’t return fire. Ask any Police

Officer who has been in a gun fight, he will tell you that you will revert back to your

training (mussel memory and the will to shoot ) some will freeze up and die.

It is no easy task to take a human life. One must be mentally prepared to to take life

if there is no other recourse.

How do i know ? I have been there in the line of duty.


With all due respect, people take you more seriously when you can spell. Try some muscle memory on the keyboard.


I agree, but I’m going to cut him some slack on the spelling, as the words themselves still made phonetic sense. Homophones can be tricky for some, and doubly so if he posted from a mobile phone with autocorrect or auto text enabled.

big john stud

I leared to shuut gunns win i was just a kide. I can shute and spell verie guud. and ill bust a cap in dat azz. ya clown.


Great article. Another reason I prefer semi-auto pistols over revolvers is safety.. With kids in the house, I prefer to have the added step of having to operate the slide, which younger kids can’t do.

Ben Arnold

I would, in fact, prefer to carry a 9mm automatic, but, here in South Florida, I seldom have cause to wear a vest or a jacket and I do not wear my shirttails outside of my pants. Therefore, I needed a small, easily concealed pocket weapon. I chose a Beretta .25 automatic, made a pocket holster for it out of leather, which keeps it upright in my pocket and snags my pocket when I want to remove only the gun. Granted, it’s too small for much stopping power, but I use what are called “Safety Bullets” in it. They have transparent slugs which contain dozens, if not hundreds, of tiny pellets. The slugs will not punch through an aggressor and harm anyone behind him. With the holster, no one knows I’m carrying. The outline of the gun is hidden. Most people would be reluctant to have even small holes punched into them, so I’m reasonably happy with what I carry. I have two .38 S&W revolvers, one snubnose in my truck and one with a 4″ barrel at home, both of which I should be able to access quickly should the need arise. It’s the small automatic that I can carry without being detected.

Mark Wallace

With all due respect guy, if you are going to carry a .25acp make sure it’s a HV FMJ as you want maximum penetration with such a small caliber. -Cheers


Ben, I have the same dilemma in the summer. I simply wear a SmartCarry (under shorts or pants, with or without a shirt– doesn’t matter). Then I can carry my SIG P239 or my Ruger SR9C with Golden Sabers in +P. Very comfortable, very safe, very affordable, undetectable, and a way more effective package than a .25, with all due respect. Anyway, check it out!


Sorry Ben,

The reply was meant for TLElliott


R .I. P.

William Bruce Edwards

Well written article Col Findley and you’re correct in what type of caliber and handgun selected; it is a matter of preference. Your article gave the reasons for selection of a certain caliber of weapon and balanced the various points for both choice of weapon and type of ammunition. I am a retired LEO with 32 years experience. When I started my career we were issued Ruger then S&W revolvers as semi-autos were budget prohibited firearms. In the mid-eighties due to all the bad guys having semi-autos our department acquiesced and we were allowed to purchase our own semi-autos and the department purchased the ammunition. Then in the early 90s we were issued S&W’s semi-autos and by the end of the decade we were issued Glock-23s and carried until I retired in ’08. My wife is also a retired LEO who is familiar with weapons. I have semi-autos in a number of calibers. Since we both were familiar with Glock’s we both carry concealed the G-27. A quality firearm and ammo can make the difference in a life & death situation. Look forward to more articles from you. Keep up the good work.

Stanley Long

I carry a GLOCK 19 as my primary and a GLOCK 26 as my BUG. With the appropriate self-defense ammunition, a 9mm handgun can be very effective.

Viola B. Hall

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this-past/4 weeks and-over, 10 grand this past month. this is certainly
the most financially rewarding I have ever had. I actually started three
months/ago and straight away started to bring in more than $79 per-hr. I
follow the details on this straightforward website,, jump15.comCHECK IT OUT

Jordan Earp

I carry A DB 9 and it say don’t exceed 115 grain it might explode the gun is this true

Col Ben

Hi Jordan!

Hope this helps. It recently appeared on Diamondback’s DB9 web page:

“Notice: Diamondback Firearms does not recommend using any 9mm Bullets above 124 gr or any Ammunition that is rated NATO, +P, +P+ or anything else that is higher than SAAMI Standard pressure 9mm. The DB9 is the smallest and lightest 9mm available on the market and was not designed for the abuse and damage that these rounds cause. Any use of non
recommended ammunition in a Diamondback Firearms will void the warranty.”

It is important to shoot 100-250 rounds in the DB9 before you can evaluate its effectiveness and the ammo it prefers. I would trust the recommendation of the manufacturer and if you have any doubts, CALL THE MANUFACTURER. Most guns prefer certain types and grains of ammo. One DB9 shooter reported that in the first 75 rounds of both Speer 124 grn TMJ and 124 grn GDHP’s, the gun experienced approximately 10 failures to feed. This happened mostly with the hollow points. After the first hundred rounds were sent downrange, it had no further feeding issues. Also, standard pressure 9mm ammo was shot though the DB9 with no malfunctions. Continued Success!
Col Ben

Allen Dean Benge

As much as I respect Col. Findlay. I carry a Springfield Armory XD-40 in a Blackhawk Serpa holster. It is stoked with Hornady Critical Defense ammo, and the 13 rounds to start with is comforting. The XD line operates like a double action revolver, due to the grip safety and the safe action trigger (metal, not plastic) I have never had a f2f or jam with this load or the tcl rounds I practice with. I just never cared for the 9mm. Personal preference.


Personally, I switch my Ruger P90DC 8+1 .45 ACP and Ruger P95DC 15+1 9mm. It depends on nothing inparticular as both Conceal very well, and are very comfortable to shoot with almost the same recoil. Yes, I practice with both, dry AND live. Nice thing to, all manipulations are exactly the same for both. That means the ONLY difference is size, caliber and color.

Carroll Mohr

As I have posted before what I carry depends mostly on the time of day and location. On my property daytime I carry a Ruger P-85 9mm. The theory is I will be able to see any threat at a greater range than at night. At night I again on my property I carry a Sig P220 in 45cal. The theory there is danger will be much closer so I want more immediate stopping power and if I only get off one aimed shot I want it to knock the critter,two legged or four legged down. In town I carry a Ruger 345 in 45 cal as it is a bit easier to conceal than the Sig. If I have to get dressed up to go out, after all I am married and the females do like to go places I carry either a SW model 19 with a 2.5 barrel or a Ruger 101 with a 2.25 barrel with 357 rounds. I am fortunate in having my own range on the property and practice with all of them constantly. As the good Colonel said many weapons for different applications. My wife on the other hand carries on property a SW model 10 bull barrel with +P rounds and shops with a Ruger 101 with a 2.25 barrel in a purse holster.. Dog packs and coyotes are a big problem here as are snakes. In town well we all have two footed varmints we face. Just some suggestions and hope it helps someone in making their decisions.

Bayou Castine

I normally carry [with a CCW] the 45 APC, Kimber ultra+ CDP II. it hides well under my normal attire and my frame. Recently I looked into the Corbon DPX with the Barnes X hollow point, pure copper bullet. After watching a DVD it appears to be extremely effective but this is an expensive cartridge, $45 for a box of 20. However, if used only for ‘on the street’ loads I don’t really care – if it is even close to as effective as promoted. Does anyone have any comments/experience with the Barnes bullet???

Dan Ess

As mentioned, much has to do with personal preference or what works on your body size and clothing style. I usually carry a semi-auto that packs more punch, but that is very small, all stainless steel and only has a capacity of 5 or 6; it’s a Kahr MK40. I am very accurate with this and it is as small or smaller than many of the newer semi-auto cc guns. It’s loaded with 6 and I carry an xtra 6 mag. In warm (t-shirt) weather I pack the LCP, again with an xtra mag of 6. In winter and when out hiking I usually carry an all steel compact or pro size 45acp loaded with 8 and an xtra mag of 8. I typically carry Hornady FTX or TAP, Remington Golden Saber, Fiocchi XTP, or Speer Gold Dot in that order. No issue with any of them in any of these weapons.


Soooo doesn’t really answer anything. Article could have been one paragraph.


He’s telling you to practice holmes


Anton’s last name is Glock, not GLOCK. Please stop doing this, no one spells it SMITH AND WESSON, HECKLER AND KOCH, COLT .45, etceterae. THANK YOU !


Sorry, Gaston Glock. Lo siento.

Fla Catman

A big consideration to some shooters: the cost of 9mm ammo is cheaper than almost any other comparable caliber. For instance, my wife carries a Bodyguard 380, mainly for its small size, but the ammo is about 30% more expensive (across all brands or bullet type) than any ammo for my Glock 26.

Johnathan Celso

A revolver IS a pistol. The word pistol simply means, handgun.


A pistol is a semi-auto, a revolved and pistol are hand guns. A revolver is not a pistol, it is a handgun.. Both are considered hand guns but are different by designation.

Denise M George

Interesting article..always carried a revolver.


I never bought into the “wonder-nine” craze, and have carried my trusty .45 for decades. I’m comfortable with the 1911, and I know my limitations and its limitations, too. For a BUG, I started carrying a little Ruger LCP about 2 weeks after they were introduced. Before that, it was a S&W 642. Slide bite is a real issue for me, but the ergonomics of the LCP are super.


S&W 642 is a great gun…


Hi Johnathan!

Both a revolver and a pistol (semi-automatic) are guns. Generally, a revolver has a revolving cylinder that rotates in order to bring a new round in line with the barrel. A pistol has a single chamber, and fresh rounds are fed into the chamber from a magazine. Hope this helps clarify my friend.

Col Ben

13th Legion

Sir, check the dictionary. A revolver and a semi-automatic are both pistols.

Col Ben

13th Legion,
Sir, thank you for your definition and understanding.

Merriam-Webster says a “pistol” is a handgun whose
chamber is integral with the barrel. A pistol has one chamber. This means that
the breech where the cartridge seats must be a part of the barrel. A revolver
or revolving handgun would not (or may not) fall into this category since the
chamber(s), in the revolving cylinder, is not integral to the barrel.

So it is a matter of SEMANTICS. Both a revolver and a pistol are handguns. The distinction, according to some sources, is that a pistol has no revolving cylinder while a revolver does have the revolving cylinder. According to other sources, a handgun and a pistol are the same thing and some conclude (with considerable disagreement) that a revolver is a special class of pistol.

Neither definition is solidly accepted by EVERYONE, but among
most (but not all) the certified handgun instructors I know, the former is the
most generally accepted definition. A pistol has no revolving cylinder while a
revolver has a revolving cylinder. This seems an important and very basic
difference. Again, both are handguns.

Wouldn’t it be nice (or maybe NOT) if the world was very distinctly clear-cut
and every idea, definition, philosophy and word was absolutely black and white,
without any gray area, opinion, or the need for interpretation of subjective
feelings, emotions, and/or beliefs. Unfortunately (or fortunately- depending on
your beliefs, etc.) in our dynamic and subjective society, it is not that way. Since
an argument can be made either way, probably the best resolution
is to simply accept the realistic fact that there are (at least) two different
definitions and opinions and it is OK TO DISAGREE, have your own
definition that you decide upon and use, and express your interpretation (while
allowing others to have their interpretation and opinion.) Understanding the
two definitions and what they emphasize is a learning opportunity.
You then agree to disagree, make it a win-win growth situation, and let it go. Seems a lot of time and effort can be wasted debating the merits and demerits of two diverse definitions. Accept that there are two. Why not channel
confrontational energy and time into a positive effort to help others recognize
that there are different approaches, rather than insist on an absolute
in-concrete opinion as “the” universal best definition. Being
flexible within our own personal paradigm is necessary for long-term success in
life or whatever. WE ALL BEHAVE IN A WAY THAT MAKES SENSE TO OURSELVES, based on our experiences, education, training, values, beliefs, heredity, and uncontrollable variables that define our personal world. So, WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE DON’T KNOW. Just what makes sense to us in our own delimited world (myself included.) We all have to ask ourselves is it worth the time expenditure of several to continue an endless unsolvable argument for the sake of advancing one’s paradigm as the “best” for all. Continued Success!


Don’t tell Washington State! They offer a CPL, concealed pistol license, that many believe allows them to also carry a revolver.


I would be astounded if you that were not the case. If you have a concealed carry permit, the only restriction I’ve ever heard of is on high capacity, which revolvers are physically unlikely to violate.


What i mean is that the name of the permit doesn’t necessarily describe what it licenses someone to carry with much accuracy.


Col Ben remains the iron chef.

Albert Nygren

The right handgun depends more on the person buying it and the use they intend for it than anything else.Someone who is not mechanically inclined and doesn’t intend to practice more than once every few months should get a hand gun because of it’s simpler method of operation and increased reliability if it sits in a drawer at home for long periods of time. There are few if any 9mm revolvers but a +P rated 38 Special with Corbon 110 gr. straitjacketed HP will just about equal the best 9mm which is probably Corbon 115 gr +P semi-jacketed HP. You need the best ammo you can handle and you can do internet searches for the most effective cartridges for self defense in the caliber you choose.

Albert Nygren

I should have specified a revolver rather than a handgun in my previous post.

Timothy Bryant

I carry a Smith and Wesson M&P 9mm Full Sized and never feel inadequately armed. No matter which caliber you use (9mm, 40S&W, 45ACP, etc.) shot placement is what is key in stopping an attacker. NO handgun round hits hard enough to actually knock a person over (I’m so tired of reading people say the 45 will literally knock you on your ass) despite opinion to the contrary. The 9mm offers me the advantage of higher magazine capacity coupled with fast and effective follow up shots.


I am past the consider step and want a M&P 9MM. I am an advanced shooter and always carry a pocket nine and a Commander 45. I find in tactical classes I am at a disadvantage after three or four days of range time as my 1911 with 230 grain FMJ has quite a kick and most of those in these classes have 9MM’s. My 1911 shoots straight, but wears on you after that much range time.

What are you thoughts on the M&P 9MM and would you consider a smaller size?

Dave Robinson

The 9mm is a legitimate self defense round. The 40 or 45 offer better terminal performance. Two rounds is the average number of rounds fired by a citizen in a self defense situation. I feel adequately armed when carrying a 9mm but prefer the 40 or 45 most of the time because either is a better performer and the extra magazine capacity almost never matters although I usually carry a spare mag. I agree that accuracy/shot placement is more important than caliber. Good article sir !


Outstanding article!!! Funny, with many hours of frustration, experimentation, and practice I’ve ended up where Col. Ben recommends. Ruger SR9c. Awesome accuracy (me) versus my .40 S&W or .45 using 115 gr. for plinking. Have to see what change to 124 gr. does at range. Thanks for article.


I was curious as to which 9MM’s you own and carry?


“No one should criticize me nor demean me for my decision,” why would anyone do that here on a pro gun site?

The only thing I was surprised to see you left out of the article was +P ammunition. I carry a Sig P938. That is a pocket Nine and all Sig Sauer’s shoot +P. It’s a given that it is the best self defense round available, if you firearm can handle it.

George Ruff

I keep a Taurus Judge 6-shot revolver by my bed. Shoots 2 1/2″ 410 and 45 colt. I keep it loaded with personal protection 410 shot. It’s heavy for CC, but they have 18 models, 2 1/2 and 3″, and I think one is a lightweight.

I’m thinking about getting a CC permit, and am trying to figure out which pistol to get. With the thinking that a small pistol on you is better than a large one at home, I’m thinking about starting with a small 9mm, like a Ruger LC9 (7 round) or S&W Shield (8 round), and maybe move up to a 12-15 round model once I’m used to carrying one around.

Grr Time

Col., great article, but I as revolver fan, I would ask you to add a couple of more points to the revolver “pros”. 1. Revolvers are generally more accurate due to the fixed barrel as opposed to the floating barrel in many semi auto’s. 2. Shot recovery is faster with a revolver as the revolver doesn’t have the semi auto backwardforward slide motion after discharging a round which makes it more difficult to reacquire the target. For a revolver con, you could mention that revolvers don’t re-cock like most pistols do, adding to trigger pull on initial and second shots…

I have used the GLOCK 27 but reasently Got a Springfield XDM 9mm for the larger capasaty magazine (18+1) and the Match-grade barrol!


Recently, I’ve noticed your lack of capacity for spelling the word “barrel”


Don’t forget, we all have the capacity to make spelling errors. 🙂

Ronald Gerhart

I know I will be ridiculed but I carry a Ruger LCR 8 shot revolver with 22LR hollow points loaded. It allows me to shot 200 – 300 rounds in practice regularly. I shoot moving right to left and left to right for practice. At around 25 to 30 feet the lowly 22LR with a Crimson laser sight and rounds going where they should works fine. I have thought of making the first round bird-shot, if they can’t see me they can’t shot me… As a Vietnam era guy I understand that really shooting someone in a life and death scenario changes the rules and your actions. Practice-practice-practice!

Ronald Gerhart

I know I may be ridiculed for liking this little bullet but I carry a Ruger LCR 8 shot revolver with 22LR hollow points loaded. It allows me to shot 200 – 300 rounds in practice regularly. I shoot moving right to left and left to right for practice. At around 25 to 30 feet the lowly 22LR with a Crimson laser sight and rounds going where they should works fine. I have thought of making the first round bird-shot, if they can’t see me they can’t shot me… As a Vietnam era guy I understand that really shooting someone in a life and death scenario changes the rules and your actions. Practice-practice-practice!

Larry DiLucchio

Because of snakes in the woods, I frequently keep the first cartridge a shot shell, with the thought that I would aim for the face if need arose when I was carrying that load, because if they can’t see, they can’t shoot. I have 9mm, 357 and 45 and am most comfortable with the 45, but any of them are better than nothing. Lazer sights on all too. That is intimidating it itself.


I wonder what 9, 40 and 45 he shoots, I have shot the XD and M&P 9 and 40 and have experienced no difference between the recoil of those two.

Willy Chee

SIMPLE is better. After having a 9mm semi-auto fauk to perform because of a malfunctioning safety, I moved to a Ruger LCR in .357. Simple. Nothing to malfunction. Plenty of power. Recently been thinking of purchasing a 9mm semiauto with no safety and double action only because of the enhanced number of rounds.With DA only, no safety is needed and one can carry it loaded. All the pluses of a revolver with the increased capacity of a magazine.


Thank you Col. Findley, not only for your service, but also for your continued involvement/interest in the safety of our citizens. This article has been VERY helpful to this first time buyer and I greatly appreciate your thoughts on the topic.


A truly excellent post. I’m considering replacing or adding to my Glock 17 as I can’t seem to get over being kinda leery of the safety on trigger concept. As a friend who has the same type of gun says “it may be good enough for the Germans but I don’t know if it’s good enough for me”. At any rate, I agree 100% with you about the 9mm. No matter what you’re shooting, if you’re not accurate with it you might as well throw it at the perp.


I like Mr. Findley’s writing. It is good, clear and very accurate. As a firearms instructor, I agree with what he says about the 9 mm pistol. I personally carry either a S&W Shield 9 mm or a Glock 17 for my firearms of choice, depending on what I am going to do. One other thing I also suggest to people who conceal carry is that if you carry a semi-automatic pistol make sure to carry at least one spare magazine on you as well. With any semi-automatic weapons system the magazine will ALWAYS remain the weakest part of the whole thing. If you carry a spare magazine you can switch over in a matter of seconds if the magazine in the pistol goes bad on you. Outside of that minor point, everything else he pointed out was excellent.

K Woerner

9mm is the weapon of choice. Most police departments, the FBI, militaries around the world, even Navy Seal Team 6, they all carry the 9mm. There must be a few good reasons. Want to know why, just google “why the FBI switched to 9mm” and you will find the answers.

Last edited 7 months ago by K Woerner