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10 Tips for Choosing the Right Self-Defense Pistol

by Ben Jimenez 8 min read 1 Comment

10 Tips for Choosing the Right Self-Defense Pistol

If you are new to firearms, you may be wondering how to choose the right self-defense pistol. With so many different choices, options and gun lingo out there, it can be a little overwhelming at first. While you are weighing your options, there are a few different things you need to consider before purchasing a pistol.  

Concealability, comfort, size, recoil and a few other factors are important to think about before spending your hard-earned money on a gun. We’ve put together our top 10 tips to help you choose the right pistol, so you can conceal and carry with confidence.  

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One of the first things that you will want to consider is the price. Pistols range greatly in price; guns made by manufacturers like Kimber can run well over $1000 while others, like theSmith and Wesson M&P, are much more affordable at around $400. Before you head to the gun store, you should set your budget, so you can make a smart purchase that doesn’t break the bank.  

Walking in with a firm idea of what you can afford will help you make the right choice. Also, just because one pistol is more expensive doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice for you. For instance, some high-priced pistols have features that are better for experienced shooters. If you are looking for a conceal-and-carry or self-defense pistol, you’ll want to consider a few other things before purchasing a gun.  

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After price, the next aspect of a pistol to consider is the ability to safely conceal it. If you are looking for a self-defense pistol, the first thing you have to decide is how you plan to carry it. Do you want to use aKydex Inside the Waistband holster or would you prefer an outside-the-waistband holster? Do you plan on keeping it in your purse or bag, stashing it in a glove compartment or always carrying it on you?  

These are all very important questions that you have to decide, as your answers will determine the size of the pistol for you. Some full-size pistols can be difficult to conceal with an outside-the-waistband holster, so you will probably want to choose one that goes inside the waistband for better concealment. Plus, a holster gives you have much quicker access to your gun rather than trying to find it in a purse or bag.  

Concealed Firearm

Having your pistol as concealed as possible is the best option. That way, you can hide it from other people, and any would-be attacker will not know you’re carrying it. This should be among your top concerns when looking for a self-defense weapon.  

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The Right Fit

Another important factor for concealability is finding the right fit. This will vary greatly depending on the person, but pistols come in three different sizes to accommodate everyone’s needs.  

They are sold as full-size, compact or subcompact — the smallest size available. To ensure you get the right fit, you should go to a reputable store and hold a few different guns in different sizes. If you have larger hands, you will probably feel more comfortable with a full-size or a compact. The subcompact will most likely be too small, and it won't feel right when you hold it or shoot it. Those with smaller hands will find the opposite to be true.

You don’t have to worry about giving up concealability with a full-size pistol. You can still easily conceal a full-size with an inside-the-waistband holster or in a bag, so choose the one that feels comfortable when shooting. You will be much happier if you have a gun that accommodates your grip.  

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weapon recoilRecoil is another very important aspect to consider. Especially if it is a self-defense gun, you’ll want something you can easily control. If you are unsure of how different recoils affect you, it is recommended that you go to a gun range and test fire some different guns.  

Many gun companies like Glock offer subcompact pistols that come in .380. This is a great self-defense round with a low recoil, so you can take accurate shots each time.  

If you are looking for something with some knockdown power and higher recoil, you should probably look at a pistol chambered in .45 cal or .40. These are two heavy-hitting rounds, but they have a higher recoil.  

Either way, just make sure you can handle the recoil of the pistol you select. If you ever have to pull your pistol in a self-defense situation, you want to be able to accurately hit the target. The recoil of your pistol can dictate both how comfortable and how accurate you are with a pistol.  

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The weight of the pistol will also have an effect on you. If you are choosing a gun to be your everyday carry pistol, you are going to want to make sure it is light and comfortable. This way, your pistol won’t become so burdensome that you won’t want to carry it.  

Pick a pistol that is light. You will want to pick up a few different pistols, see how they feel in your hand and consider that you will be carrying it all day. Most subcompacts and compacts will be pretty light; however, there are a few full-size pistols that are light as well. Be sure to sample a variety to find the right one for you.

Leather Gun Belt

One thing that you should invest in is aleather gun belt. Since you will more than likely have a pistol on your hip all day, your pants can sag from its weight to a certain extent, no matter how light it is. If you have a heavy-duty gun belt, the holster will stay in place, and you won’t have to worry about your pistol dragging your pants down.  

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Ease of Use

If you are new to guns and you are not exactly sure how the pistol works, it is highly recommended you read the owner’s manual and enroll in aconceal and carry gun course. In a course, a certified instructor will be able to show you how to safely operate your gun. You will also begin to pick up some common gun lingo like revolver, semi-automatic, single action and double action.  

After you have been through a basic gun course, you should have a better understanding of how to operate a firearm. You will want to choose a pistol that you like and know how to use under duress. Some people like the revolver over a semi-automatic, but this is all a matter of personal preference.

For your everyday carry and self-defense gun, you want the simplest or the easiest to use. This will prevent you from freezing or missing a step if you have to use it to defend yourself. Also, it helps to practice regularly on the gun range because this will make you more familiar with your firearm.  

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Having confidence in your gun is an important part of selecting a self-defense firearm. You want to make sure that you know how to operate it efficiently and that you are skilled to use it properly, should a situation arise.  

This skill and confidence comes from practice. You cannot purchase a firearm and expect to be proficient with it during an emergency simply because you’ve been carrying it around with you for a while. Instead, you should bring your gun to the range on a regular basis and practice with it.  

Practice is the best way to build confidence. You will know all the different ins and out of your pistol by simply shooting it regularly. Also, you will be able to determine how reliable your gun is — an extremely important element of self-defense.  

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Certain pistols have garnered a reputation for being reliable. At the turn of the century, right when semi-automatic pistols made their debut, they were often considered unreliable as compared to aColt revolver. This may have been a century ago, but revolvers have been known as the most reliable handgun ever since.  

Revolver Handgun

This isn’t to say that a semi-automatic is unreliable, but any piece of equipment will at some point malfunction. However, if you go to the range regularly and properly clean and lubricate your gun, you should be able to judge its reliability. Most guns will fire reliably if they are maintained properly and contain the right ammunition.

If you feel as though your everyday carry is maintained properly but it is unreliable, you can send it back to the manufacturer or find a different gun. It is imperative, that when you pull your gun for self-defense, you are confident it will work properly.

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Accuracy is also important.  If you have a pistol and you cannot hit anything with it, you are not helping anyone. Most of the time, accuracy comes with more practice, so it is imperative that you factor that into your purchase — and your schedule, as well.

All pistols are not created equally, however, and some pistols are much more accurate than others, regardless of how much you practice. If you have adjustable sights on your gun, consider zeroing your pistol to match your shooting style. This will increase the overall accuracy.  

If you have a pistol that does not have adjustable sights, you can learn how your pistol shoots. That means if you generally shoot slightly to the right, you must remember to shoot slightly to the left to compensate. This may sound difficult, but as you practice with your pistol, you will learn how it works. If your pistol is all over the place even though you consider yourself a good shot, you may want to look at getting a different model.

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The final component of a gun that you will want to consider is its capacity. This is the amount of ammo your pistol will hold. The need for capacity will vary from person to person, especially if they feel the need to have more rounds available to defend themselves.  

Many pistols have both double stack or single stack magazines that can carry anywhere from 7 to 15 rounds. This choice is ultimately a very personal one, but you can opt to buy aspare magazine holster if you feel that your pistol does not have enough rounds. This will give you more ammo than what your gun carries, which may give you an added sense of comfort.


So, now you have our top 10 things to consider before purchasing a self-defense pistol. A firearm is a major investment, and you want to make sure you’re making the right choice. It could be the difference between life and death in a threatening situation.

Firearm is a major decision

Make sure that you consider how easy this pistol is to conceal. When it comes to conceal and carry, you’ll want to be able to blend into the crowd without others noticing your pistol. Also, you will want to take into account the recoil and weight. You’ll want a gun that isn’t too heavy and doesn’t have a large recoil, allowing you to take more accurate shots.  

Finally, gaining confidence and competence with your firearm will come from constantly practicing at a shooting range. You cannot accomplish that without taking it to the range and shooting it regularly. Also, you must maintain it properly to ensure that it functions well every day. If you follow these tips, you should find the perfect everyday self-defense gun that you can carry with confidence.

Ben Jimenez
Ben Jimenez

1 Response

Maurice R O’Connor
Maurice R O’Connor

September 21, 2018

Great article! Should be passed out a gun stores for the new to intermediate shooter!

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