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TTAG’s gun reviews are our bread and butter. (Our news blogs are the turkey, mayonnaise and sea salt.) We’re privileged to shoot and review so many firearms on your behalf. While I don’t get much trigger time — too busy making sandwiches — I get a lot more than most. Again, grateful. Here are three guns I recommend without (m)any reservations, with links to TTAG’s reviews . . .

GLOCK 19 (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

1. GLOCK 19

Too easy you say? Great gun I say. But then I’m a minimalist and the GLOCK 19 is a do-it-all minimalist machine. The 9mm 19’s good for carry (with a bit of effort), home defense and range time. If ballistic bling’s the thing, there are enough 19 accessories to satisfy even the most fashion-conscious operational operator (operating operationally).

Setting aside the issue of the non-existent frame-mounted safety — which would absolutely ruin the lines — the GLOCK 19 has everything you need and nothing you don’t. Feed, point and shoot. Yes, the polymer pistol’s point-of-aim isn’t nearly as intuitive as a Springfield XD (for example). But practice enough and you’ll discover that time wounds all heels, if you know what I mean.

As for the GLOCK 19’s gritty trigger, it’s nothing that 10000 rounds won’t cure. Or a Ghost trigger. The GLOCK’s reliability may not be “perfect” but mine’s never failed to go BANG when so directed. The GLOCK 19’s a bit pricey, but, as they used to say, no one ever got fired buying an IBM. Oh wait. Anyway, the GLOCK 19 is a legendary gun because it deserves to be.

Smith & Wesson Model 642 (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

2. Smith & Wesson 642

Pocket or snub-nosed revolvers are damn useful firearms — and not just at bad breath distances. With [a lot of practice] you can hit the bullseye at 15 yards — and beyond! (Jerr-ry! Jerry-ry!) More than that, modern .38 caliber self-defense rounds are plenty powerful for personal defense. Slotted in a 642, they’re a bad guy’s bad day waiting to happen.

The J-frame 642 is built like a proverbial brick sh*t house. You can feel the quality just by picking it up. Or pulling the trigger, which can be staged for you dining and dancing pleasure. The superb Smith smithing makes the 642 a family heirloom, well worth the price of admission.

The 642 comes in an assortment of flavors: LaserMax, Crimson TraceLadySmith, No Internal Lock, Deluxe, Deluxe Again, yet another Talo “exclusive” and Plain Jane (not it’s real name). There are Airweight versions and black, grey and silver finishes. I’m partial to the stainless steel NIL lock-less version. It’s the classic snubbie. Easy to carry, easy to shoot and deadly in the right hands. Or left, depending.

3. Henry Repeating Arms Classic Lever Action .22

Good Lord the Henry Repeating Arms .22 is a good gun. The American-made-or-n0t-all lever gun’s action is smoother than a J.J. Cale guitar solo. In the same way Clapton said he could play J.J. Cale’s versions of his songs “’til the cows come home,” you can shoot Henry’s lever gun until you run out of ammo. Which, given the .22 ammo shortage, might take you less time than listening to Mr. Cale’s fretwork.

Especially when you consider the Henry’s Classic Lever Action’s front-loading-only routine. Then again, we are talking about very small cartridges and once you load-up, say, 15 .22LR’s, you have a fair bit of shooting ahead of you. Unless you’re like my man Wayne above, who can’t seem to get rid of those bullets fast enough.

The Henry is ridiculously accurate and not half useful. Whether you’re hunting varmints, plinking or yes defending hearth and home, the Henry is a gun you can trust. A gun that rewards practice and punishes you not at all, ever. And it’s a real looker; the gun’s glove-friendly loop and blued steel barrel is the dictionary definition of understated elegance.

All this for under $400. Just four bills to have and to hold a gun that connects you with history in a way that few firearms can approach. You should. Approach Henry Repeating Arms Classic Lever Action .22. But only if you’re prepared to spend the cash for the love that dare speak its name. Well, here, anyway.

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  1. A 9MM, a snub nose .38 and a lever .22, got it.
    Obscure reference, Mr. Blandings builds his dream house

    • I’ve got two of the three (642 and G19). I like the Glock, and love the 642. They seem like the quintessential examples of their respective categories (striker fired polymer wonder nine, and pocket snubby).

      I’ve been planning to buy a lever gun, but may go with a .357 or 30-30 for it instead of a .22lr, since I already own several .22 rifles.

      • Wanna get a .357 lever action, just to load with .38’s and shoot reloaded ammo until I’m blue in the face. Then having the lever action will justify the purchase of a revolver in same caliber, but I REALLLLLLY don’t want to stock up on an eighth (ninth including .38) caliber.

    • Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.

      And for you budget minded consumers, the Mossberg 500 series shotguns are next to impossible to beat — both on price and reliability.

      Pro-tip: buy your shotgun in 20 gauge rather than 12 gauge. Unless you plan on doing a lot of duck or goose hunting (where you want as many pellets with the most velocity possible), you won’t be missing anything, except the excessive recoil of 12 gauge.

      • Once again , uncommon_sense has very good common sense and I believe that is increasingly , uncommon .
        I would concur with all points on the shotgun .
        I would take the Ruger P series 85 or 95 over the Glock 19 , hammered . My hand is too large to comfortably shoot the 19 and I personally prefer the safety .
        The S & W 642 is sweet , but once again I would have to go with a Ruger , the SP 101 is my choice for favorite and I think I would have to throw in the Tarus Judge on the list and finally , I love my Henry rifles and my Henry model 1 is a hoot and tack driver but for versatility I would grab my 10/22 with a couple of 30 round magazines or the 50 round drum for the road in a bug out bag .
        I personally would toss my CMR 30 in the bag with about 6 mags. but I realize these are sort of unicorns right now . These are real bug out tools .
        I love these conversations .

      • Agreed on the 20 gauge vs. 12 gauge. 20ga is a good option for most uses, and it won’t beat you up as badly. The only reason I own a SBE2 instead is because of goose hunting, where it does have a performance advantage with steel shot out of 3.5″ shells, or when I’m working with impatient goose hunting buddies who have 10ga scatterguns…

      • It is a lot cheaper to shoot a 12g vs a 20g, though, at least if you go in for the cheapest shells available.

  2. Pretty good recommendations for an-all around stable.

    I personally prefer Marlin (real Marlins) to the Henry but it is a solid choice.

    Now the big question…..

    Is this new way to generate revenue for TTAG? Or just a promotion of solid gun choices?

    I hope the latter.

    • How would this post generate revenue, I assume you mean differently than other kinds of posts?

      Why shouldn’t they generate revenue anyway, why can’t TTAG do both?

      • He means ttag could be paid for articles like these, they have little substance and amount to nothing more than advertisements.

        • Yeah. What he said. Ha!

          There is a big difference between recommending what you think is good and being a schill by recommending what you are paid to recommend.

          If a company advertises on a site, that’s great. Like to see sites make money.

          If you being paid to recommend something, it’s a little different. Especially if you don’t reveal you’re being paid.

          I was just asking…..not accusing.

  3. IMHO, the Ruger 10/22 should grace the halls of every home. Simple, reliable, and inexpensive. If you own only 1 rifle in your lifetime, this is the one to have.

      • I have a TD with a Nikon 3-9×32 ProStaff Rimfire BDC on it. Lots of fun and pretty darn accurate at 100 yards and below.

        • Very similar setup, with a Simmons 22mag scope and see-through rings for the XS sights aperture setup. Chopped the barrel to 16.5″, threaded it, and threw on a suppressor. It’s taken turkeys, varmints, and the like without fail. CCI stingers or velocitors are ferocious on small critters.

          If I had to sell all my guns, the last to go would be my Kimber CDP. The second to last would be the TD 10/22.

  4. The URL says “five-guns” which confused me when reading the title and the rest of the article. LOL

    I don’t think a safety wouldn’t ruin the lines of the Glock because it is of the worst looking guns produced today. It’s simple and utilitarian, but so are minivans…

    Glocks just work, but you would think they would update the ergonomics and, to a lesser extent, the aesthetics. It really does feel like you’re holding a plastic brick and looking at an unfinished prototype. I don’t think changing the design would be the right business decision though. That’s because like Harley-Davidson fanboys that are stuck in the past and throw a fit about any change or innovation to make the bikes modern (like liquid cooling), the diehard, change-resistant Glock customers would cry foul at any update that would make the gun different.

  5. I’ve been seriously considering Henry guns as of late. Specifically, the All Weather model, possibly 45-70. Something about that round just appeals to me. It’s definitely not the cost of ammo though…

    • Just saw one of those exact guns at Sportsman’s Warehouse, the one on the North side of Denver.

      • I’m in the Springs, not driving that far to spend that much money haha. Not at 7.2MPG.

    • From strictly a utilitarian perspective, the ubiquitous lever gun of choice should be the Marlin 336. These charming rifles are available for under $350 and have been virtually unchanged by Marlin for 50 years. Henry makes a fine rifle, pretty even, but without a feed gate I just can’t justify the price.

      • It depends on where you live. For the lower 48 I would agree with you on the 336, and not just because I own one, but if you’re up in AK you’re likely better off with the .45-70 as opposed to the .30-30.

        • I must absolutely agree with that. But it wouldn’t be a Henry that’s for sure. I would want a Marlin 1895SBL.

        • I have the 336 and I love it. I’ve picked up but never fired a Henry but based on my experience I would go with the Marlin too.

      • I’ve been looking at the Henry as well (.357), but the creeping prices in the 03A3 has me thinking I should do that first. And if Hillary takes the WH, maybe an AK and AR.

        Anyway, the lack of a feed gate is disappointing, but from what I can tell you can full load the Henry faster. The gate is good for topping up, so I guess it depends on your most likely use case to decide which is “better”.

        • You should buy your AR and AK well in advance of the election. There will likely be another massive run on guns following the election. You may not get an AR or AK, or you may pay double the price for one.

        • I would say Art is right. When it comes to the price of something like this perception is reality.

          I don’t know who will win or what will happen after the election, but I suspect Art is 100% correct that prices will inflate in the run-up to the election.

        • You’re right that nobody knows what will happen after the election, but looking at prices on ARs and AKs right now, I can’t imagine an outcome where those rifles will be cheaper at the end of the year. We’ve got to be very near the bottom of the market now. You can pick up quality entry-level rifles like the S&W Sport II for $499 right now.

        • Personally I prefer the SKS for semi-automatic rifle over the AR or AK. You can buy 3 SKS for the price of an average AR or AK. Rounds are cheap and plentiful. They are very customizable, but don’t scope well. But for lots of fun and stopping power under 150 yards, they are tough to beat.

        • Gman. I’ve got both an SKS and an AK. I love both of my little commie guns (actually all 3 including the Mosin). I still need to pick up an AR.

          Sadly, SKS aren’t near as cheap as they use to be. It is hard to get one for under $300ish these days (my Norinco was $315 a couple months ago). The AK’s are hard to find for under $500-600 (while my Saiga was about $300 six years ago). We don’t even want to mention how much M44 Mosins have shot up in price lately ($79 a decade ago).

          I wish I’d bought a $79 SKS back in the early 90’s.

          Like other people have mentioned, you can get decent AR’s (like the basic Ruger or Smith) these days for $500-600. That is hard to beat. Heck, a new Glock costs $500.

          At today’s prices, the AR’s seems like a good way to go. I don’t know what will happen with the election, but I can easily see AR prices doubling if people freak out.

        • So I could probably get out the door with a basic AR and SKS for around $800? With the AR, id probably eventually try to relive my foolish youth and dress it up to look MilSpec, but better components. The SKS… I hadn’t considered. I was pretty comfortable with the idea of a 74, but now I need to reevaluate.

        • The SKS doesn’t get the respect it should. Thanks to being so inexpensive when they first started coming into the country, people have an image of them as a “cheap” gun. They can be a little rough around the edges, but they just run and run and run. If you budget $900, Katy, you can probably find a very nice SKS and a good basic AR like the Smith or Ruger for sure. $800 might be cutting it a little close, once you factor in taxes and such. Don’t forget, you’ll need to buy a few mags for the AR, too – at that price point, it’ll only come with one.

      • I seem to recall that there was a period of time in the recent past where there were many complaints about the Marlin build quality.

    • Jon in CO,

      Why not go with a lever gun in .44 Magnum? The long barrel really adds a LOT of velocity to .44 Magnum and you can purchase .44 Magnum cartridges for less than $1 each. Of course a long gun in .454 Casull is, ballistically, on the heels of .45-70 Government. Keep in mind, though, that .454 Casull is going to cost something like $1.75 per cartridge and .45-70 Government costs a little bit more at something like $2+ per cartridge.

      I am having a hard time thinking of a situation where a lever gun in .44 Magnum shooting 320 grain hardcast lead bullets with a muzzle velocity around 1750 fps would be inadequate for promptly stopping any four-legged threat in North America including moose, wild horses, bison, and grizzly bears. Of course the same lever gun in .454 Casull simply adds about 7% more diameter, mass, and velocity for additional “safety margin”.

      • That’s been a consideration, but cost again, if I go 44mag, then I have to obtain a 629 Smith or something equivalent. Costs more money haha. I just really love the look of those all weathers, so that’s the main thing. I like the idea of tube fed, loading gates IMHO are a pain in the ass.

        • Jon,

          The Henry Big Boy lever-action rifle in .44 Magnum has a tube magazine and you load the cartridges at the top of the tube magazine, not a side loading gate. It sounds like it meets your requirements exactly.

          Let me know how it shoots after you buy one ; ).

          Oh, and if you want a .44 Magnum revolver to go with it, look at Taurus revolvers. They are on the heavy side which reduces recoil. And most (if not all) of them have ported barrels which definitely reduces muzzle flip and even helps reduce recoil a little further. They are less expensive than Ruger and Smith revolvers and are supposed to be built so well that they can handle .44 Magnum +P loads. Bonus: the Taurus Raging Bull series have the best single and double action trigger that I have ever felt on any handgun.

          So, the Henry Big Boy Steel lever-action rifle in .44 Magnum will set you back about $700 and the Taurus Raging Bull revolver (with 6 inch barrel) in .44 Magnum will set you back about $670 for a combined total of around $1370 … but it will be the best $1370 that you have ever spent. And note that both firearms are solidly built and will be running like tops 100 years from now with basic care.

        • @Uncommon Sense (reply to comment below)

          If those Big Boy Steel’s came in a stainless-esque finish, I’d be on board. Not a huge fan of bluing. I like the black/silver contrast.

          As for Taurus, not happening. Too many bad Taurus guns have been through my possession, and I’ll never go back. I would consider the .357 model in a stainless finish, and toss in a GP100 4″. Ether way, my gun budget money is gone currently, so I’ve got time to make a decision.

      • I concur with the lever gun in pistol caliber, but for me it would be .357/.38. Both are excellent rounds and much less expensive than .44 mag. Plus, I’ve got a lot of .38 & .357 wheel guns…

        • A .357 lever gun is on my list, to go with my .38/.357 SAA clone. The Marlin 1894c is nice, especially since its length (18.5″ ) is right in the sweet spot for max velocity, but I would really like one with the classic curved steel butt plate. It’s not like a .357 needs a recoil pad in a rifle. As far as I can tell, only Rossi makes one like that in pistol calibers.

        • I’d prefer a .44 lever gun to a .357, other than the fact that I have several .357/.38 revolvers and no .44 revolvers. I also reload for the .357/.38.

  6. Good, bad, or indifferent… At least this article is about firearms ;- )

  7. You know… I’m starting to get tired of these Glock recommendations that basically go “Yeah there’s better stuff out there but… It’s a Glock, so you’ve gotta buy it.” Springfield XD’s and S&W pistols especially have sufficient aftermarket parts out there to while there isn’t as much selection as a whole, there is still sufficient parts for nearly anyone to customize their pistol. Beyond the aftermarket, there are a number of equal and superior choices in terms of performance at or below the price of a Glock 19, so… yeah.

    I just don’t get it.

    • Any pistol that you buy for self defense that you feel you have to modify for it to be acceptable means you bought the wrong gun. A lot of people buy Glocks because Glock — all the cool kids have one.

      You could say that you should have a Glock in your collection for the same reason you should have a 1911. However, no one has ever built a single action, single stack pistol that is the equal of the 1911. Whereas, there are at least three modern polymer frame, striker fired pistols that are undeniably better than a Glock.

      • +1. I haven’t bought a Glock for the exact reason you listed, why buy a pistol I know I’ll have to change the sights and trigger on and therefore sink even more money into from the get go? I tried a Sig P226 at a rental range once. My groups shrank by 25% because it felt that much more comfortable to grip/shoot, and I’m hardly a pistol marksman.

        • While I get the argument, I feel like it’s kinda trendy to hate on Glock.

          It is what it is, an ultra reliable, no frills gun designed for duty/self defense use. While there are other options out there that may work with your preferences better, don’t dismiss glock because of their popularity.

          Especially for those eligible for the blue line program, paying 450 for a brand new Glock with night sights is kinda hard to beat. I’m not a fanboy, I only own one(but I do carry another at work every day) but my normal EDC is a Shield.

    • I am with you there. My first was a Springfield, because I never liked the Glock, didn’t shoot it well, and consider it to be unsafe with a round in the chamber. The only thing I changed about the XD was to add night sights. It has been completely reliable over thousands of rounds.

  8. Silly me, I thought this was going to be recommendations for 3-Gun. Guess I need to brush up on my reading skillz.

  9. This list should contain a shotgun, and a .357 instead of the .38. But I agree on the Henry. I’d have one already if I didn’t already have my old Winchester 1906. It’s all I can do to keep up my ammo supply with that; add another .22 rifle, and I probably wouldn’t be able to keep any .22lr at all.

  10. Because you all love my opinions; the grip on the 19 sucks and the same is true for the 642. The Ruger LCR has a much better grip than the 642, and as for the 19, there are practically infinite alternatives that have modern, ergonomical grips. I’m currently using a CZ P-07, which is great, but I change plastic fantastics often.

  11. As a builder of Kydex Holsters, we often get asked what we recommend for a x, y or z gun. Unless the person asking has significant firearms experience or a very specific purpose for the firearm, we always recommend the Glock 19. It is extremely hard to beat for capacity, size and low-recoil impulse. Not to mention the millions of aftermarket parts and accessories.

    For the other 2 suggestions, we’d probably steer someone more toward a Ruger SP101 due to the greater weight (enhanced durability and less recoil impulse) and a Savage Mark II for a .22 Rifle due to greater accuracy and the ability to mount optics. Doesn’t scratch the “Cowboy” itch quite like the Henry but it’s a fantastic rifle.

    • Sir, I like the cut of your jib.

      I’d add a bigger long gun than a .22 if it were my list, or recommend a .22 conversion for the Glock.

  12. I actually thought it was going to be a 3 gun article. Good choices, would have preferred to see it rounded out with a shotgun.

    That being said it would be cool if this just happened to be part of a series where everyone eventually posted up an entry similar to article sets done in the past.

    • Those would be my 3. However the posted list are merely recommendations. I didn’t take it to be a “if you could only have 3 guns…” type of list.

  13. Semi automatic, magazine fed, (common) intermediate caliber rifle…

    Semi automatic, magazine fed, (common) service caliber pistol…

    Pump action or semi automatic, 12 or 20 gauge shot gun…

    Wash, rinse, repeat.

  14. Excellent choices in guns (except for the Glock, maybe – not my cup of tea), but remind me not to let you make me any sandwiches.

    Turkey, butter, mayo, and salt sandwich? Might as well throw a paper towel and some boiled lettuce on there and really kick the blandness up a notch!

  15. god there are just so many better choices now in 2016 in mid size striker fired pistols in 9mm than a glock 19.

    • That come standard with a polygonal barrel? That accept larger capacity magazines from big brother? That have a 25 year proven reliability history? That require ZERO rounds of break in period to function as normal? That operate so easily that even a caveman could do it?

      There are some guns I would consider nearly equal to the GLOCK 19 but not better. I like the M&P 9 but now you are going full size. The compact M&P9 is only a 12 rounder. There are not that many guns this size with this capacity, this tough, this simple to use, this price ($400 something).
      I didn’t want a Glock 19 because it was too common. Hickok45 had almost every GLOCK model made lying on the table and said “If you are looking for your first gun, here it is, the GLOCK 19”. I didn’t have a gun but me being me, I didn’t want to start at the bottom. I wanted what all the experienced guys carried. Boy, did I misunderstand what Hickok45 was saying. I only bought this gun because I lucked into a great deal during the shortage of 2012. Found the only new GLOCK 19 in all of Atlanta for $449 and had to grab it. No regrets in over three years of carrying every day. 5,000 rounds and never been serviced. (might need to look into that).

      • Springfield XD Service in 9mm. Not only does it have better sights and a better trigger which makes it more accurate, it has the added advantage of not going off when a piece of clothing get caught inside the trigger guard when holster it.

  16. If you “feel the quality” in a new locked up Smith & Wesson, you don’t have experience with the pre-locks.

    • Removing the lock on a S&W revolver is a job that takes a couple of minutes and does not leave a hole in the frame. It’s so easy that even a retired lawyer can do it.

  17. On the 642, you forgot what is perhaps the best version. Its the “pro” version and is cut for moon clips, while still retaining the ability to extract rounds traditionally.


  18. These are all good choices, but I wonder why the Glock 17 gets no love. It’s the pistol that put Glock on the map and it’s more accurate than the G19. I know that it is a bit large to conceal easily, but it’s still a hell of a handgun.

  19. I’m pretty close

    I went with a Springer XD9 for the polymer auto. I’m an old time 1911 shooter but I’ve been having problems with arthritis of late. I went to the XD because it has a grip safety and I can shoot it well. I’m not convinced that the 9mm is as effective a stopper as the .45, so I carry 3 spare mags. That gives me 64 rounds and lots of little holes are at least as good as a few big ones.

    My snubby is an older Smith 640. Stainless steel with a nice boot grip. I usually load it with .38 special +P rounds and it should do the job if I ever need it.

    Now for rifles. If we’re going to insist on a .22 the only common sense choice is a Ruger 10/22. If we’re talking lever guns the Henry’s are great if somewhat pricey choices. I own a Big Boy in .44 special/magnum and that rifle is the most fun you can have with your pants on. If the Henry tariff is too steep a nice used Model 94 or Marlin 336 is a good choice. I’ve got one of each to back up the Henry (wouldn’t have a Willy or a Sam).

    Shotguns are no brainers Older 870 because the new ones are pretty bad or Mossie 500. End of story.

  20. This list is obviously for people who don’t hunt. Three guns that any true westerner would have include,
    #1 30.06 bolt action rifle.
    #2 12 gauge pump shotgun.
    #3 1911.
    Call me old school but basically you can handle 99% of the worlds situations with the above three.

  21. Like many others, my list would include a .357 revolver (there are many good choices), .22 rifle (preferably a bolt action), and a 12 gauge pump.

    But if you were asking what three out of my collection I wouldn’t get rid of, I’d go with my CZ P01, made-for-Sears Marlin 80 and Mossberg 500.

  22. I would say the Ruger 10/22 would be my .22LR choice as well. I have so many rounds thru mine I lost count and it keeps on ticking.Easy to carry, 25 rounders fit in the pocket or gear bag so nicely too. Alternately would be a model 1892 Winchester in either.44 mag, or .357 and a handgun to match it.

    Far as a shotgun, please don’t overlook the Winchester SXP pump in 12 or 20, smooth as glass action, solid with a rotary bolt design proven for 50 years. Nice carry gun too. Probably the fastest pump gun except for the old model 12 or 37 with no trigger disconnector (hold trigger and pump till empty, rinse, repeat) Highly under rated gun. Simple takedown to clean, cost effective.

  23. A glock? Really? Anyone who recommends a glock loses credibility in my book, as I must assume you don’t know much about pistols, triggers, accuracy, durability, safety, and subjectively, aesthetics. I would seriously rather arm myself with a stick.

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