What is the best pistol to have in a firefight?

18 Sep

This is a good question. I’d say if you know you’re going to be in a firefight, the best weapon isn’t a handgun at all. Semi-automatic rifles are more shootable, have more stopping power, and have more range. If you don’t like the recoil of the 7.62 NATO, a cool choice would be an AR-15 in 6.8 SPC. I don’t own one. It should have more stopping power than the 5.56 mm and be more than adequate.

If, for whatever reason, you can’t have a rifle, another question is this: Are you absolutely going to be in a firefight? The weapon I’d want in my hand wouldn’t necessarily be the weapon I’d want to carry day-to-day or even keep at home for home defense.

I write quite a bit about the 1911 pistols in my book. Because they’re single action, they aren’t the best carry piece. But, if I had to have one pistol in my hand and knew I’d need to stop attackers, that would be the one I’d choose. In 45 ACP, I’d load 200 grain JHP Cor Bon ammo at about 1,000 feet per second. If money were no object, I’d prefer one in 9×23, which is like a stronger 38 Super. I don’t own one of those and probably never will, but I think it would be a superior caliber to my 45 ACP. It would roughly be equivalent to a 357 magnum in power.

A more popular choice would be the Glock 19 in 9mm which holds more shots. If I knew I was going to be in a firefight, I’d want a magazine fed pistol, so I could drop a magazine and pop in a new one. As much as I like them, revolvers would be out. If I knew I was going to be in a firefight, I’d carry half a dozen magazines. Or more! Why? Two words: Paranoia and fear. I wouldn’t want to run out of shots.

An expression I’ve heard many times is that the purpose of a handgun is to fight your way to a rifle. This is nonsense. If you’re attacked, it’s not like a game of Doom. You’ll either stop the attackers or you’ll get shot and go down. Whatever weapon you start with is the weapon you’ll end with, for better or for worse.

The other reason I pass on a revolver is because it’s difficult to shoot a double action revolver as well as a tuned 1911. The trigger pull and length makes all the difference. If I knew I was going to be in a firefight, I’d want a pistol I could shoot fast and accurately. Statistically, in a self-defense situation, you’ll be within 21 feet of your attacker. I don’t want to rely on statistics if I know I’m going to be in a “firefight.” The word “firefight” conjures up images of multiple opponents and unknown distances. A good case can be made for the 9mm over a 45 ACP or the rare 9×23: You can get off multiple shots faster.

Whatever pistol I choose would need to have good sights. Given my vision isn’t what I’d like, if I knew I was going to be in a firefight, I’d look into the Red dot sights like the Trijicon RMR. I’m a purist. I don’t like scopes or optical sights on pistols. I like to live more, though!

A sight like this on a carry pistol is awkward. But if the gun is in your hand and you know you’ll need to stop an attacker, why not have it? Up close and at night, another choice would be one of the Crimson Trace Laser Grip sights. These sights send out a laser to tell you where your shots will land. It’s like cheating on point shooting. On the plus side, if somebody sees the dot on their chest, they might surrender. On the negative side, a laser beam can help your opponents find your position.

To sum up: The best pistol to have in a “firefight” would be a reliable and shootable semi-automatic pistol. Have extra magazines. Have good sights.

With all this said, there is a line of thought that goes way back. What’s the best gun to have for self defense? It’s the gun you have with you. It doesn’t matter what you have in your safe at home if you’re accosted on the street. If you feel comfortable carrying a 1911 Commander or Glock 19, that’s fine. If that’s just too big for you to carry comfortably, go with something smaller. A Kahr K9 for example. You can get laser grip sights for it.

While the 1911 is the pistol I’d want if I knew I was going to be in a firefight, a more common situation is that you don’t know if you’ll need to use your gun or not. The gun I keep for home defense is a 357 magnum revolver. The longer heavier trigger pull assures me I won’t touch off a round accidentally. Many armchair commandos say this shouldn’t ever happen with a single action automatic pistol, but it does happen to shooters, some of whom shoot 25,000 rounds or more annually and compete in pistol competitions.

The best pistol to have in your hand if you know you’re going into a firefight isn’t the same as the best pistol to have if you might not need to use it! Most self-defense situations aren’t full blown “firefights.” Pointing a gun often scares away an intruder. Some attackers won’t even have guns. Up close, a good case can be made for the Snub Nose revolver.

My final answer: At the end of the day, the best pistol to have in a firefight is up to you. If you have confidence in your weapon, it’s reliable, and you shoot it well, it should serve.  The guns you’d choose for practical self defense and to fight off 100 MNZBs could be quite different.

Charlie Palmer -author The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning

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