SUMMARY/ABSTRACT: Many of my students ask my professional opinion on gear selection. Based on my “mileage” and understanding I often find myself recommending Glocks OR XDs/XDMs. I also recommend they TRY a Glock, XD/xdm and a S&W M&P before they buy. IF there was one perfect gun, there would be ONE.
Your primary factors in selecting the handgun will be 1) Caliber 2) operating system 3) size/weight 4) cost/benefit.
If you are selecting a sub-compact for pocket carry, I suggest a kel tec pf9, xds 9, S&W shield 9 (XD/glock subcompacts are TOO fat/thick for a sub-compact niche). The xds & shield may be too tall for pocket carry.
SCOPE: Daily citizen conceal carry (not competition guns).
Do you want to standardize on a caliber or have one of each?
FACTORS TO CONSIDER
- Can you and those you live with handle/manage the same caliber?
- If you can buy in bulk (think costco), you can save on ammo costs. So, do you select one caliber for everyone in your family?
- Do you shoot several thousand rounds a year training? Its better to practice with a 9mm than to rarely practice with a 10mm.
- Does your caliber allow you to use that ammo in a sub-compact/pocket gun?
- Is there really that much difference between MODERN 9mm, 40 SW and 45acp?
Factors said another way:
Select a caliber that you and your family members can “manage”. GOOD hits with a 22LR are better than peripheral hits with a 44mag.
For me, I have a large family and many are petite females, so I wanted to standardize on a caliber and STOCKPILE ONE caliber.
Also, I do a lot of training, so an inexpensive caliber makes sense. Also, I often carry sub-compact guns and I want the caliber I choose to work with sub-compact/pocket guns. Another factor in my caliber selection is I’m 1st a rifleman and all handgun calibers are insufficient in my opinion. To me a 9mm +p+ HP with about 440 LBS of power is not that much different than a 45 acp at 525 lbs. I get more round capacity with 9mm.
SUMMARY Of Gabe’s article:
1) low recoil means quick follow up shots
2) more capacity for multiple attackers
3) with MODERN 9mm HP ammo is very effective. 9mm FMJ is very ineffective because it doesn’t expend all of its energy into the target (just goes right through the bad buy).
4) If you live in a state where you can only have 10 rounds, go with a 45 acp. But if you live in a free state, why not have a 9mm with 19+1 rounds?!?
5) all handgun ammo is about the same, CHOOSE what you can manage.
I recommend the reader read Gabe’s article on “why the 9mm”
An Internet rumor is that the FBI released a document on “justification” for the 9mm:
I think most departments don’t emphasis marksmanship & are having a hard time qualifying, and thus its easier to qualify with a 9mm, than a 10mm. If I was LEO, I’d want to carry a 10mm (more capacity than a 45 and hits harder with better penetration).
I’m an IT guy, so my verbage may be “non-traditional gun talk”.
I recommend you go with something “proven” with A LOT of mileage and stay very trunk-of-the-tree! Now, just because Law Enforcement and the Military use it, doesn’t mean its ideal for civilian conceal carry, BUT it ought to be proven. Does it do ONE thing very well, or does it try to be jack-of-all-trades?
Is it SIMPLE!?! Is it SAFE?!? Is it quality? Would you bet your life on it?
Don’t ignore revolvers! If you are unable to work the slide (rack the slide, chamber check, weapon manipulation, malfunction drills, tactical reload) due to a disability or weakness, you may consider a revolver. Revolvers have MANY PROs:
1) can be fired in a purse or pocket without malfunctioning like a semi-auto
2) Doesn’t require strength to work the slide
3) very reliable
4) can be in a small package like a S&W 638 (very light too).
2) Large CALIBERS
3) very light loads can be used for new shooters, if it will exit the barrel, a revolver will function. Not so with an auto, they must have enough power/gases to function the slide!
4) snake loads – oh yeah, I saw 4 rattle snakes within 2 miles of my house last summer.
5) A young/new shooter would have a difficult time shooting a 2nd or 3rd round accidentally with a revolver, not so with an auto.
6) long term storage (bug out vehicle, or basement).
1) Low capacity rounds
2) Poor ability to top off cartridges
3) Usually heavier than similar autos.
4) watch the gap blast (could take a finger off if you stick your finger/thumb up near the gap of the cylinder.
5) Loss of FPS depending on gap, could be as much as 100 FPS.
6) Usually wider/thicker than autos.
7) Double action trigger can be difficult to master for precision shooting.
8) Field stripping can be complicated. Other then just taking out the cylinder
9) One handed reloads are a challenging! Locking the cylinder open in your pants with one hand and then loading it! PIA!
LETS TALK ABOUT Semi-AUTOs.
What is your budget? Are you willing to pay for the best engineering and materials on the planet? Its going to cost over $1,200.
Is your choice able to shoot 10,000 of thousands of rounds reliably? Even over 100,000 rounds!?! Do gun ranges rent your firearm (if they don’t, its because it can’t handle the stress).
Most people find a good cost/benefit ratio in a Glock or XD/XDM. We all prefer different things.
I often find my self recommending a Glock or an XD because they are about $500 (come with extra magazines). BUT, you need to go shoot BOTH and see which you prefer. GO RENT ONE!
ALSO, you are NOT getting married to this gun, you can change your mind and buy something else (or off-load it).
Glock Vs XD
Things I like about the XD (as compared to the glock)
- The trigger seems smoother/easier than a stock glock.
- I LIKE the grip safety like the 1911 (if you EVER have problems with the grip safety (failure to fire or you can’t rack it, and its not a “training issue”; you may want to find something other than a XD or something that does NOT have a grip safety).
- better grip slant angle than glock – my opinion. XDs have a common angle for grip – like 1911, sig, H&K – everything but a glock (glock has a unique angle). Glock is great for isosceles shooters (which “helps them manage recoil” IMO.
- not picky on ammo like glock – my experience is that my glock is very picky. From what I read/my experience the XD will eat just about any ammo you give it! My glock was picky and jamb’d on wolf ammo all the time!
- magazines drop smoothly for tactical/emergency reloads – unlike glock mags that tend to stick when empty. (XD mags are stainless steel mags vs plastic/polymer mags). YES, you can get the stainless steel mags for XDs in BLACK (but is it worth the extra cost?)
- left or right hand mag release (yes, glocks can have left handed mag release, but NOT at the SAME TIME. XD you can have ambi mag release AT the SAME TIME! — great for switching hands to come around a corner (and NOT stick your whole head out to see around the corner).
- camber indicator –
- hammer cocked indicator
- XD has the very tough materials like the Glock – weather/water etc
- XDM 9mm holds 19+1 rounds!
- comes with “gun and gear” which is usually 2-3 magazines, a cheap holster and a cheap mag pouch that holds two magazines. (glock’s gun& gear is pretty lacking IMO)
- XDM has removable backstraps so you can ADJUST the size of the grip to fit you (glock gen 4 finally has this).
What I don’t like about the XD
- Depending on model, the finish wears out quick (I think a worn out gun shows “experience” & character. One of my XDs has 12,000 rounds through it and about 40 handgun classes, its finish is still good, but doesn’t look brand new.
- barrel height — XDs barrel height is higher than the glock, so recoil management (all things equal size/weight/shooter) the glock has better recoil management.
- Doesn’t have a 1911 style “crisp trigger”. Which is good, because it doesn’t have a manual safety like a 1911.
- The accessories and replacement parts are getting better for the XD, but will likely never be as good as the glock “accessories”.
MORE DETAILS on pros/cons of Glock VS XDm by nutnfancy. Nutnfancy has A LOT of experience reviewing gear and guns and I TRUST HIM and his opinions.
He is a major Glock BIGOT, but is fair in his reviews. He is INDEPENDENT REVIEWER and gives his opinion.
This guy is ANYTHING but SAFE! yikes! This video shows the extended magazine sleeve that is popular (which I do NOT like cuz it pinches me).
SEE, why I can recommend ETHER ONE?!? So, pick which one you prefer.
To me, the glock is awesome! But the XD is the “upgraded glock” IMO!
excellent article about the XD: http://www.sightm1911.com/lib/review/XD-9_Tactical.htm
WHAT I own or have owned:
glock 27 (40 cal sub-compact…I wish I’d bought the glock 23…I’d still own it if I had).
XD sub-compact 9mm (small grip and short barrel). FOR ME, it malfunctioned ONE handed (left handed) and when it was SLIGHTLY dirty, so I OFF-loaded it).
PILES of 4″ XDs
Glock 10mm (LOVE IT for predator defense).
xd 9mm 5″ tactical (LOVE IT!)
Ruger single action 357
Ruger single action 22lr
ruger mark III 22/45 (LOVE IT! its a tank and sewing machine, but NOT a combat system).
The gun you have with you is better than the gun in your safe because its too heavy or you are unable to conceal it.
Lets face it, handguns are for “unexpected attack”! IF we were expecting an attack, we wouldn’t be there..or if we had to be there, we would have a rifle, knee pads, plates and a bunch of friends with rifles.
THIS portion of “selecting the right handgun” is going to be drastically based on your personal preferences and how motivated you are to change your dress/lifestyle to accommodate a gun.
VERY HIGH-LEVEL/SUMMARY: The ideal is to have a full-sized handgun for training and home defense AND a compact or sub-compact for conceal carry. IF you can afford it, its better to have a “tool” that does ONE thing excellently, than to have a tool that is “pretty good” at several things. IE a multi-tool or a toolbox of tools? WHICH is better? Well, I carry a multi-tool everyday of my life, but I also have a tool box of tools.
WHY NOT ALL OF THE ABOVE?
Full sized 9mm examples: Glock 17, XDm 9mm 4.5″ barrel, XD 4″ or XD 5″
Comparing the glock 19 (compact 9mm) and the 4″ XD, they are about identical, BUT the XD fits MY hand (without pinching my hand in a fast reload or emergency reload (YES, I have bled blood from pinched quick mag changes and it makes a mess and makes your gun a bit slippery).
I LOVE the kel-tec pf9. I’m just now getting mileage with the kahr CM9, but so far, I like the cm9 MORE than the pf9.
To me getting a sub-compact XD or subcompact glock does NOT make sense. If you are going that small, you want single stack magazine (slim is better). I’m impressed with the XDS, but I don’t have enough miles with one to articulate pros/cons.
My thoughts on sub-compacts AKA Sub-Compact Wars.
Kel tec p32
Kel tec p3at
Kel tec pf9
Sig P250 sub-compact 40 caliber
Sub-compacts may be the biggest growth area ever. More people are buying sub-compacts than ever before. Gone are the days of the tactical vest wearing 5″ 1911 packers. With the advent of high performance composites and better steal, guns can be lighter and more concealable than ever. Glocks are pretty lite compared to 1911 or SIGs, but man they are FAT.
Most people are critical of sub-compacts because of their limited fire power and capacity. These same folks carry once or twice a month. IF YOU CARRY, you MUST carry EVERYDAY. If you carry, you MUST have one in the chamber; studies show that having an empty chamber is riskier than not carrying at all!
If you carry a 4″ high capacity EVERYDAY, this article is not for you. If you leave your 4″ “range gun” in the safe most days; this article IS FOR YOU.
To me, the subcompact makes a lot of sense because it is better to have a “defense system” with you; than in the safe. I have several 5″ tactical guns, I have several 4″ guns. From 9mm to 10mm I enjoy them all, but what do I have with me EVERYDAY!!!????!!!! not a 5″ nor a 4″. I recall watching a video of Saurez international instructor unload his g19, as soon as he was out or had a malfunction he transitioned to a pocket revolver and I was impressed with the speed and utility of such a backup system. Given the lbs for the trigger, no pocket holster was used. One of my pocket holsters was designed to stay in the pocket when the pistol was removed from the pocket.
So, what are the options. There are sub-compact Glocks, XDs, keltecs and revolvers. I HAD a glock 27 and didn’t carry it but once or twice a month. I HAD a XD sub compact, but didn’t carry it very often. I find I forget I have my kel tec pf9 or smaller kel tec p32; and these two are carried the most. I really like the pocket carry because it is comfortable and it is as easy as putting your wallet in your pocket in the morning. ALSO if you get NERVOUS, you can STAGE by putting your hand on your gun in your pocket WITHOUT anyone noticing you staging your gun!
The pf9 with MANS’ pants fit really good. The XD sub-compact is just a bit too fat for a pocket pistol. Think of this, there is a situation that SEEMs to be progressing into a defensive situation. Putting your hand in your pocket and getting a grip doesn’t alarm anyone and pre-stages a reaction if needed. Can I draw from my “range gun” serpa holster faster? Yes. Do I carry my serpa concealed? almost never.
Why did I select a p32 over a p3at ? Because I already had a ppk in 32, and wanted to not have to change calibers. 380 is A LOT less money per round than 32. 380 ammo is not always easy to find. I have 9mm ammo that says 430 lbs of knock down power. This is close to 40 SW power, but when you are training, use the cheapest 9mm ammo you can find 😉
If you were going to buy a subcompact that you were going to have with you everyday and have a standard/easy to FIND caliber, I would highly recommend the kel tec pf9 or kahr CM9. Now Ruger THINKS they have made improvements to the pf9, time will tell. Am I willing to buy a ruger lc9 and compare it? No, I’m happy with the pf9 and ruger can try to rip off kel tec’s designs. Wait for ruger comes out with a copy of the su16c or kel tec shotgun (two tubes of 7 rounds).
I’m a big fan of nutnfancy: He is a total knife snob, but likes guns too. He LOVES the pf9 and LOVES the kel tec su16c…that makes us fast friends 😉
What about the Ruger LC9 (yet another keltec copied by Ruger):
Lets compare sizes of common sub-compact pistols:
Left to RIGHT: XD subcompact 9mm, kel tec pf9, kel tec p32
The XD has a 10 round and 16 round mag with sleeve, EXCEPT if you have to do FAST magazine insertions and pinch your palm and start bleeding over everything 😉 Which I’ve done…and man it bled and bled.
THICKNESS IS EVERYTHING…or thinness rather 😉
On top is p32, pf9 and then xd 9 SC
p32 vs pf9.
XD Vs pf9, nearly the same, but the THINNESS matters to me!
p32 vs XD
SWITCHING FROM sub-compact, to COMPACT comparisons:
Ok, I’m comparing a glock 19 (aka G19), XD 4″ 9mm and a FPN-9.
The size/weight of the XD and FNP are very close. The g19 grip is just 1/4 shorter than the xd and fnp. for the thickness of all these guns, I think the 1/4 is worth it for my size hands (very large).
I hate bleeding when I do a quick mag change and get pinched!
I’ve always talked bad about DA/SA pistols because of the down-you-are-dead “safety” like the barreta m9 or ruger (whatever that junk is called). BUT the sigs and the FN has a LONG and pretty smooth trigger, which acts as a safety (for the first fired round). after that it switches to single-action(SA). The FNP says its 12 for DA, and 3-4 for SA.
I still prefer the glock/xd “system”, but for a bed-side gun(think little kids messing with it on the counter while you sleep), I think the FNP could be an option.
anyway, here are some photos I took of all three guns.
about the same size (length and height):
FNP on top of XD
Notice G19 is about 1/4 shorter than the FNP (for height).
I think I might be more interested in the FNP if I could carry it cocked and locked (hammer back, safety on). YET, no “down-you-are-dead” safety like the M9.
HOW TO CONCEAL/HOLSTER OPTIONS.
THIS topic is too deep and too diverse to address here. In fact, anything I say, is for ME and I’m unique.
Lets just say, I LOVE my custom Foxy Holster.
It distributes the weight of a full sized gun.
My pants act as a funnel and not all the weight is in one place like a pan-cake holster.
VERY concealable and good retention (I don’t have to worry about it falling out or an unauthorized person gaining access to my gun.
I also LOVE pocket carry!
A holster purse is a good option for my wife that is not dedicated enough to carry a handgun on her person everyday. IT IS A COMPROMISE IMO!