August 11th, 2020

Self-Defense Handguns — Factors to Consider + Two Top Choices

Model 638 smith and wesson revolver airweight
Main photo from NRAILA.org. The NRA supports Second Amendment rights.

Article by AccurateShooter.com Editor-in-Chief
In the last month, a half-dozen acquaintences have asked me about getting a handgun for self-defense at home and while traveling. What is notable is that all of these persons have never owned a handgun before. Moreover, two of the six are pretty staunch liberals who, prior to 2020, thought the Second Amendment was a “historical anachronism” that should be repealed. With the widespread riots and “defund the police” activism, that has all changed. These six people now realize that there are real threats in current society and they may find themselves in a situation where armed self-defense is the only option.

Model 638 smith and wesson revolver airweight

Try Before You Buy — Find a Gun with Good Reliability, Controls, and Ergonomics
These six persons asked for recommendations on handguns. I explained that there was no one “best gun” for every person. I also stressed the importance of training, and of trying various handguns to compare ergonomics, weight, balance, sight arrangement, controls, and trigger pull.

Folks, ergonomics and grip shape DO make a difference. I used to give pistol instruction at a local club. I provided four 9x19mm pistols: Beretta 92, HK USP, SIG P226, and Glock 19. Two-thirds of the students shot best with the SIG P226, and only 10% shot best with the Glock 19. The majority of the students kept “pulling shots” with the Glock, even with a lot of practice. Not so with the SIG P226. I attribute that to lower center of gravity and more ergonomic grip shape/angle.

Caliber Choice — Factors to Consider
We are not going into the long caliber debate today. I have owned semi-auto pistols in .380 ACP, 9x19mm Parabellum, .40 SW, .45 ACP. Each cartridge has its pros and cons. But for a first-time gun owner, looking for a self-defense round, I will recommend the 9mm. It will have noticeably less muzzle flip than the .40 SW, but still carries much more energy than a .380 ACP. I love the .45 ACP for target shooting, but it is more expensive for practice, and there are fewer pistol options. For revolvers, the .357 Magnum is a great defense round, but some of the smaller carry pistols are limited to .38 Special.

Semi-Auto 9mm Carry Gun Recommendation: S&W M&P9 Shield EZ
I have considered a wide range of 9mm carry pistols from Glock, Ruger, SIG Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Taurus, and Walther. There are many very good pistols out there. But what I recommended to my acquaintances was the new Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm. This gun features a back-strap grip safety and is offered with or without thumb safety. There is also a M&P9 EZ model with built-in Red Laser.

Model 638 smith and wesson revolver airweight

Here are the key reasons I recommended the M&P9 EZ 9mm pistol:

1. Good Accuracy and Balance
2. Integral Grip Safety and optional Thumb Safety
3. Good Ergonomics: 18-degree grip angle for natural point of aim
4. Reasonable 4.5-lb Trigger Pull (some other pistols are 7+ pounds*)
5. Easy-to-Rack Slide
6. Take-Down does NOT require trigger pull (unlike Glock)
7. Availability of built-in laser or accessory rail-mount lights/lasers
8. Good Price: $479.00 base MSRP with $399.99 street price
9. Outstanding Smith & Wesson reliability, warranty, and customer service

This detailed, authoritative M&P9 EZ video review also covers the M&P .380 Shield EZ:

Model 638 smith and wesson revolver airweight

Small Deep Concealment Carry Gun Recommendation — S&W Model 638
I am a big fan of revolvers. I have probably put more rounds through my S&W Model 617 .22 LR revolver than all my other handguns combined. Revolvers are accurate, solidly built, and the shorter-barrel models conceal easily. In addition, revolvers are inherently simple — they can be put into action without racking a slide or dealing with mag latches and the like. I’ve actually seen trainees drop magazines on the ground when they were drawing pistols from holsters — they hit the mag release by accident. If this can happen in a class, it can happen in a threat situation.

Model 638 smith and wesson revolver airweight
S&W Model 638 Airweight from Guns.com.

For concealed carry, I recommend the Smith & Wesson Model 638 revolver. IMPORTANT — the Model 638 has a hammer so it can be shot single-action OR double-action. Having the single-action option is great when a slower, more precisely-aimed shot is needed. Unique among S&W revolvers, the 638’s hammer is shielded — this way the hammer will not snag when the gun is carried in purse or pocket.

As for accuracy, you will be surprised with the Model 638 with good self-defense ammo. Despite the short site radius, the little 1.875″-barreled Model 638 will easily outshoot most self-loading .380 ACPs. With my 638 Airweight, slow-fire, I can put all five rounds inside 2″ at 20 feet with ease.


* Some folks may criticize this S&W Shield 9mm EZ because it lacks a heavy 7-9 pound trigger pull. The thinking is that a heavy DA pull is better for novices. We understand the argument. However, in the real world we found that novices shot much worse with very heavy trigger pulls, even after much training. We believe a 4.5-lb pull is moderate and will actually allow better accuracy for the average shooter. A typical Glock pull-weight is about 5.5-6 pounds.

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August 11th, 2020

Win Valuable Prize Packages with August Gearbox Giveaways

Gearbox Giveaway Contest August

To help celebrate National Shooting Sports Month (NSSM), rifle and gear manufacturers are offering big prize packages — the Gearbox Giveaways. Enter to win rifles, pistols, ammo, and other valuable prizes. Many of the Gearbox packages are worth over $3000 with the most valuable package worth over $4700! Enter as many of the Gearbox Giveaways as you choose. You can’t win if you don’t enter.

You’ll find all the Gearbox Giveaways on the NSSF website. Shown below are 12 current Gearbox Giveaways ranked in order of value — starting with the most valuable prize package. Below each photo is a link for the ENTRY PAGE for that gearbox item. Good luck!

Gearbox Giveaway Page — SEE ALL Prize Packages »

Gearbox Giveaway Contest August
ENTER TO WIN ULTIMATE AMERICAN OUTDOOR SHOOTING SPORTS GEARBOX. MSRP $4725.75

Gearbox Giveaway Contest August
ENTER TO WIN SIG SAUER SHOOTING SPORTS GEARBOX. MSRP $3939.48

Gearbox Giveaway Contest August
ENTER TO WIN PRIMARY ARMS SHOOTING SPORTS GEARBOX. MSRP $3717.93

Gearbox Giveaway Contest August
ENTER TO WIN BROWNING SHOOTING SPORTS GEARBOX. MSRP $3032.00

Gearbox Giveaway Contest August
ENTER TO WIN GLOCK SHOOTING SPORTS GEARBOX. MSRP $2800.00

Gearbox Giveaway Contest August
ENTER TO WIN THE MOSSBERG SHOOTING SPORTS GEARBOX. MSRP $2600.00

Gearbox Giveaway Contest August
ENTER TO WIN DANIEL DEFENSE SHOOTING SPORTS GEARBOX MSRP $2360.97

Gearbox Giveaway Contest August
ENTER TO WIN WINCHESTER SHOOTING SPORTS GEARBOX. MSRP $2164.88

Gearbox Giveaway Contest August
ENTER TO WIN SMITH & WESSON SHOOTING SPORTS GEARBOX. MSRP $2116.92

Gearbox Giveaway Contest August
ENTER TO WIN COLT PYTHON + DOUBLETAP SHOOTING SPORTS GEARBOX. MSRP $2033.00

Gearbox Giveaway Contest August
ENTER TO WIN RCBS + HOPPE’S + CHAMPION + BUTLER CREEK HUNTING GEARBOX. MSRP $1348.47

Gearbox Giveaway Contest August
ENTER TO WIN RCBS + HOPPE’S + CHAMPION TARGET + BUTLER CREEK GEARBOX. MSRP $1099.06

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August 11th, 2020

Ammo Reference Book Covers 200+ Cartridge Types

Ammunition Ammo Factory commerical hunting load data ballistics hunt Bob Forker

Do you use factory ammo in your hunting rifles? Perhaps you buy bulk centerfire ammo for your AR15 or varmint rifle. Then this book is for you.

If you ever shoot factory ammo, you should consider getting Ammo & Ballistics 6. This resource book lists over 2,600 different loads for 200+ cartridge types from .17 Mach 2 up to .700 Nitro Express, including the most popular centerfire and rimfire cartridges (both rifle and handgun). In this updated-for-2020 Sixth Edition, there are over 3,000 tables covering virtually every caliber and every load for all commercially-loaded hunting ammunition sold in the USA. Tables include velocity, energy, wind drift, bullet drop, and ballistic coefficients up to 1,000 yards.

Ammunition Ammo Factory commerical hunting load data ballistics hunt Bob Forker

Ammo & Ballistics 6 helps you select ammo for a hunt — quickly compare the velocity and knock-down power of various commercial ammo. This book can help you choose a caliber/chambering for your next hunting rig.

Verified Book Purchaser Reviews
“Outstanding reference guide for shooters and ballistic enthusiasts alike. Has data on velocity, energy delivered, Taylor KO index, windage and elevation on numerous loadings for hundreds of [cartridge types]. Each cartridge has all dimensions labeled (i.e rim, case length, neck, etc.), and has an informative description of the cartridges history/relevance.” — S. Step, 2017

“Great heaps of data! This volume has pages and pages of new data for .22LR like the hot Velocitor, and also on the .22 WMR from 30 grains up into the 50s. Most importantly there is lots of range data, drop, windage, kinetic energy, etc. — Terrific reference guide….” — E. Svanoe

Ammo & Ballistics 6 contains data and illustrations on virtually every sporting cartridge sold in the USA. This 2020 Edition covers 200-plus cartridge types from .17 Mach 2 up to .700 Nitro Express.

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