The basics needed for defensive use, a semi-auto handgun and an AR.
Previous Post
Next Post

When it comes to gun ownership, the motivations can vary greatly. For some people, it’s hunting that interests them. For others, it’s target shooting and competitions. There are also collectors, history buffs, doomsday preppers and many other things. But, for many people today, the whole point of getting a gun is for personal defense.

One thing that can get confusing in the beginning is that there’s a lot of overlap between the reasons you’d get a gun. For example, you might start with self-defense and then get into competitive shooting. Or, one might be a hunter with a collection of hunting rifles and war memorabilia. You can’t put a gun owner into a box like that in other words!

But, this overlap can get a new gun owner into trouble. Everyone of sound mind should have basic defensive tools and maybe a couple of hunting guns if that’s how you feed yourself and your family, but beyond that, we have to admit to ourselves (however reluctantly) that it’s a hobby. There’s nothing wrong with having a hobby, but not when it gets in the way of important things like paying the bills, building up savings, maintaining your car and home, and keeping the significant other happy.

So, we all have to figure out where to draw the line between essential tools and other hobby things, like collecting. In this article, I want to discuss what basic defensive tools a new shooter should focus on getting and keeping.

Basic Firearm #1: A Defensive Pistol

In today’s world, everyone should have a pistol, learn how to effectively use it and keep it with you. But, it’s easy to spend as much as you can imagine (and probably more) buying a pistol. Sadly, many of the more expensive pistols just aren’t great defensive tools, as they’re built for other things. Plus, if the worst happens and you have to shoot somebody in legitimate self-defense, you can count on that gun sitting in evidence for months at minimum, and you don’t want some $3,500 wonder gun sitting in somebody else’s storage.

This will rile some readers up, but as an instructor who has helped thousands of people get licensed to carry in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, I recommend a basic striker-fired gun for personal defense. I love other guns as much as any of you, but if someone’s on a budget and wants a basic gun for defense, you can’t beat something like a Glock, Smith & Wesson M&P (or M&P Shield) or Sig P365. They can be had relatively inexpensively, they’re reliable and they aren’t hard to take care of.

If you’re on a very small budget to get your first pistol, a Glock clone like the PSA Dagger is another great option. These can often be had for around $300, and sometimes cheaper when there’s a really good sale, complete with a cut slide to add a basic red-dot optic later.

Basic Firearm #2: An Affordable AR-15

The other gun I think everyone should try to have is an AR-15. To newcomers who’ve heard all the talk about weapons of war and mass shooters, this might seem like too much gun, but it really isn’t. An entry level AR is affordable, doesn’t have much recoil can be used for a variety of things like smaller game hunting, home defense, target shooting and even preparedness for “SHTF” or “TEOTWAWKI” or whatever the kids are calling it these days.

In other words, it’s a valuable tool that can serve a variety of defensive and personal needs.

Volumes could be written about how to shop for an AR-15, so I won’t try to do that here. Just be smart, look at reviews for the affordable models, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from trusted friends. Be sure to get some spare magazines (I’d recommend at least six, but 10 is better) and an affordable optic if desired.

If you live in a rural area, you might consider doing an AR-10 instead of an AR-15, but they’re generally not as affordable. The reason I recommend this is that you’ll get better opportunities for hunting with a .308 round than you’d get limiting yourself to 5.56/.223.

Why Not XXXXX????

I know people in the comments will have other ideas, such as revolvers, a bolt-action rifle, and maybe even the formerly cheap Russian surplus guns that are out there. While everyone has a right to their opinions, the goal of a basic defensive gun safe is to have affordable, reliable, serviceable, and versatile guns. A striker-fired pistol and an AR10/15 is about as basic and utilitarian as you can get these days.

Don’t Forget Training, A Safe and Ammunition

A gun is worthless without a reasonably skilled shooter behind the trigger, ammunition and a safe place to keep the guns when they’re not being used or kept ready for use. So, every new shooter needs to take care of those things. I’d personally recommend keeping at least three spare magazines per pistol and six for a rifle, 500 to 1,000 rounds of ammunition and attending at least a basic training course locally to get up to speed.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. Purchase in whatever order is convenient, but these cover the bases —

    .357 magnum with a four or six inch barrel
    12 gauge pump shotgun
    Bolt action .308 with a scope
    Semi-automatic in 9mm or .45 ACP
    AR-15 from a reputable manufacturer, like Colt or Daniel Defense

    From there, choose what tickles your fancy.

    • Agree DD except on 45. 10mm beats 45 by most measures. Likely getting a 308 bolt & a 357. Got the handgun’s,rifle & shotgun. Just watched an interesting video from Banana Ballistics comparing 357 to 10mm with 6″ 686 and Glock 40 with the long barrel. Pretty much a flatfoot tie!

      • 10mm does beat .45 acp (and 9mm for that matter), but I was thinking more about ammo availability rather than ballistics. .357 and 10mm are a wash, ballistics wise, which is why when I carry a revolver I carry a .44 magnum. 🙂

        • If one reloads it used to be more cost effective to go with 45 (cast lead) but the various plastic coated bullets made it come out in favor of 10mm unless you are going for 460 Rowland or maybe super. With that said 44mag is probably the most fun without getting into silly or hunting focused revolvers.

        • I was at Cabela’s last week & saw lots of 10mm & less 45. 44 magnum is also on my radar.

          • Neat, my area still has 45gap competitive with 10mm in shelf space with 45acp and 380 beating both.

      • Banana ballistics is the worst possible channel to get any advice from.
        And it’s not close!

    • I’d skip the AR and go for a .22 rifle (semi or bolt, doesn’t matter)for rabbits and whatnot. The only issue I have with .357 is the current cost of ammo. I have plenty of .45 Colt and .45 ACP, and reload both. I’d add simple single stage reloading equipment and plenty of powder and primers for the coming shortages I’ve been reading about.

      • I have known people that use small rifle primers for 357 seems to work and might streamline some supplies but not sure I would go all in.

      • Get a used Ruger 10/22. Lots of good upgrades for them and if you are lucky you might find one that has a few good ones instead of bubba’d to heck.

    • Since the average gun owner concerned with defense is not likely to cross paths with anything 4 legged…

      A scoped bolt action seems hardly worthwhile.

    • The only disagreement I might have is the need to buy a Colt or DD AR-15. Vast numbers of much cheaper and still very reliable ARs out there – PSA, Bear Creek, etc. The only one I’ve had some trouble with is an Anderson. But, it’s an AR, so a replacement barrel is easy enough to procure.

    • What you listed almost describes my firearm inventory.
      Slight differences, though.
      .357 Ruger New Vaquero 5 1/2 barrel
      Two small striker fired 9mm pistols )(Ruger LC9 and SIG P365)
      A .40 cal striker fired pistol (Springfield Armory XD40)
      A Ruger Mini-14 in 5.56 NATO
      A Browning BLR 81 in .308 (7.62X51)
      A Winchester 30-30 lever gun, 26 inch (Pre-1964, made in 1956)
      A Browning 3″12ga over/under Citori shotgun
      A Mossberg 3″ 12ga pump shotgun.
      A Romanian training rifle, in .22LR, magazine fed, bolt action. Made in the early 1960s. Very accurate and a fun plinker.

      All of these have been acquired over the last 40 years. Love the Brownings and the old Winchester.
      Bought the Mini-14 when I was in the NYARNG and used it to learn the Army Field Manual methods for marksmanship, which allowed me to qualify with the M16A1 on my first time out. The Mini-14 is iron sights (replaced the originals with target peep and front post) and is barrel stabilized and good for 250 yards easily. My visual acuity these days is the limiting factor on any iron sighted rifle, I’m afraid, but if I can see the target, this rifle will hit it.
      The Brownings are wonderfully made, great to shoot, and perfect for what they are for.
      The Fotay was a bit of an impulse buy, but I like it and I can shoot it well.
      The Nines are practical buys.
      I tend towards military calibers, mostly because of ammunition availability. I have owned a few exotic caliber rifles (300 Weatherby, for example), but I don’t reload and that Weatherby had a 39 pound recoil, which is pretty punishing when you only weigh in at 160#, so I sold it to a fellow who could appreciate it more, back when I was still serving in the US Navy submarine force.

  2. Whatever functions and is legal that you can afford and actually use without pain to prevent practice that fits in wherever you want/need it. Many reasons for variety.

  3. If a person is not a ‘gun’ person and they just want the one gun for that just in case moment It is hard to beat a duty grade revolver. Simple works. And if a person is not going to jump into the lifestyle then a double action revolver will serve them just fine.

    The semi auto pistol is for folks that are going to take the time to get familiar with and practice with their weapon.

    I live in a heavily built up area. The Bay Area. Lots of folks and lots of urban sprawl. A rifle is not a good choice for self defense here.

    I keep a shotgun as a back up to my pistols. I have rifles. I just do not put them in the self defense rotation.

    • While I have been surprised by how effective frangible and varment rounds can be in densely populated regions it would not be a beginner choice and for those that do not tend towards diligence in practice a revolver is a great start. Other side of the coast with permits needed for pistols and semi auto rifles limits realistic entry options to various shotguns and lever action rifles for anything practical for home defense and get ready to pay out for other options (not that functional lever action rifles are cheap).

      • I know that lever guns ain’t cheap. But if I ever find one of the new Marlins in .357 I’m buying it. I have a Ruger gp 100 and I want a matching lever gun to go with it.

        Not a need. Just a want.

        • May end up going the Henry route but need to read up which versions are not as rough on the brass (Rossi unfortunately has a reputation I have observed)

    • Even then, a revolver holds 6 rds, (7-8 if you go that route) and a G17 will take 17. You don’t have to do anything extra with either one, point and shoot. 17>8. Simple math. A non gun person can do point and shoot with both, but having more rounds on board is a better option for them.

        • Of what a language she can barely articulate to others and her entire thesis was based on her community college job……….yeah few of the guys in my unit went to DelTech and had her for English.

          • Eat your cake, revere whom you’re told to revere, do as ordered and always remember shut the fuck up, or else, Comrade.

            Now, where are your documents pertaining to your most recent booster?

            • That is becoming uncomfortably familiar just replace Kill with Taylor Swift.

              • Taylor Swift cracks me up.

                She ping-pongs between totally PC and based as fuck.

                Anti-Hero might be pop as it gets but it takes shots at a lot of things.

                You Need to Calm Down OTOH, is so PC it’s ridiculous. You’d almost think it’s actually kinda high end trolling. Really, it kinda is.

                The second song is also a perfect example of why Conservatives lose. The content is Lefty and ludicrous but the production level is high and the song is catchy.

          • That level of redundancy is reserved for AOC.

            “Boob!? Baby girl, I have two and neither one is stupid!” -AOC, most likely.

  4. What Jennifer and jwm said. You’re also much more likely to carry if it’s small and light. I like my Shield Plus, but sometimes I choose even easier, and go with smaller/lighter pocket carry, especially in the summer.
    Will vary depending on where you live:
    1. “micro” 9mm (affordable, available, easy)
    2. 5.56 AR-15 (same as above)
    3. everything else depending on your needs

  5. I urge new shooters to purchase a gun that they can afford to shoot.
    – Buy 1000 round case ammo and train with it.
    – Spend money on two good quality holsters that allow different carry options.
    – Have at least 5 magazines that fit each weapon and dispose of a magazine when it causes issues.

    Those issues are absolutely necessary to consider when purchasing a handgun.

  6. A handgun. Because I can take it wherever I go. I can wear it around the house. Or I can wear it around town.
    Under the right circumstances I can even swim with my handgun.

    And you can carry a long gun as well. Everywhere if you wish.

    Some folding or take down long guns are easy to conceal. On your body.

    • If I’m not mistaken I believe its against the law to conceal carry a long gunm SBR, SBS, or any other.
      State laws may very.
      Check to make sure.
      I recently found it is against the law to open carry a handgunm with a holstein that doesn’t cover the trigger in this state.
      The Right to Bear Arms Shall Not Be Infringed,,,??? Could have fooled me. Or maybe it’s that I don’t know what the words Shall Not or Infringed means

      • “State laws may very.”

        State laws do vary. In many states it is legal to openly carry a long gun.

      • If you use the correct stock. And wear the correct clothing. You can carry a take down ruger 1022 or a chiappia little badger. Or a Henry AR7. Concealed. All are long guns.

        Ask me how I know.

    • The concealed carry permit in Virginia is specifically a “Concealed Handgun Permit”.

      • In Kentucky it’s called a “concealed carry weapons permit.” Not just guns. But any weapon concealed.

  7. A handgun, a rifle, and a shotgun and all bases are covered. Then, the decisions revolve around actions, calibers, and gauge. Try different ones, if possible, and go with what’s comfortable.

  8. I agree with the list in the article, in fact, it duplicates my personal SHTF list, including the PSA Dagger, which is, in my opinion, twice as good at half the price as a G19.
    My only caveat is that for a brand new, inexperienced shooter, who is honestly unlikely to practice a lot, at good stainless steel 357 is probably the best choice for a first gun, especially if it is to be the only gun. A revolver is as close to idiot proof as one is likely to get (no bells, switches, thingamabobs, safeties to fiddle with). A 357 has enough HP to get most self defense jobs done, and it can shoot cheap and easy 38s for practice.
    It’s not acceptable, nor is it an excuse, but how many poorly or minimally trained people have ND-ed a G19 when trying to field strip it?

    • Without reloading equipment involved when was the last time 38spc was cheap? That aside no argument from me for when a pistol can be purchased easily.

      • It’s been a long time but it certainly used to be. Some of the new revolver offerings have both a .357 cylinder and a 9mm one which are quick change. Sure moon clips might ne a bit of a bother to some but 9mm is about as cheap as it gets for ammo besides .22lr -and then there are a few .22 revolvers that are the same frame size as some of their bigger brothers so you can train really cheap if you have one of each.

        • I noticed that shift to 9mm options a few years ago and yeah makes sense. It’s just fun seeing how long it’s been since a person has tried to buy any relevant amount of 38 special. The last time I remember it being competitive with 9mm was around 2006-2008.

    • It’s not acceptable, nor is it an excuse, but how many poorly or minimally trained people have ND-ed a G19 when trying to field strip it?

      Stupid people do stupid things. You can’t change this. Trying to fix this is how we ended up with an external switch-safety on the 1911.

      “That’s entirely unnecessary, you’d have to be some sort of retar…” -JMB

      “Have you met our recruits?” -US Army

      “Wow, you really hate your own soldiers, huh?” -JMB, probably

  9. Anyone should get these defensive guns in this order:
    1. You need your handgun in order to get to your shutting
    2. You need your shutting in order to get to your rifle
    3. You need your rifle in order to get to your long range sniper rifle
    4. You need your long range sniper rifle in order to keep bad guys away at long range.

  10. Anyone should get these defensive guns in this order:

    1. You need your handgun in order to get to your shotgun
    2. You need your shotgun in order to get to your rifle
    3. You need your rifle in order to get to your long range sniper rifle
    4. You need your long range sniper rifle in order to keep bad guys away at long range.

  11. I don’t really have an opinion that I care to argue on this other than to say that if your bedside home defense gun is an M44 Nagant, that’s pretty fuckin’ cool.

    Especially if you take out one of the BGs with a butt stroke followed by a poke from that flip out bayonet.

    The FN Mauser M-24/47 also qualifies in this regard, though the bayonet isn’t quite as handy if you don’t already have it ready to stab.

    I would consider ammo prices going forward though. The current short squeeze on copper won’t last in its acute form but the new floor on brass inputs ain’t going to go back to what it was five years ago and it will continue to creep up, probably as a step-function, over time. Expect more squeezes on all inputs for ammo as time proceeds.

    Even reversing the policies that are creating this will have a decade of lag time before they seriously start to affect the price points of the inputs, and quite frankly, I don’t see a full reversal coming. Merely a partial paring back.

    • Closest to that level of cool I got was an 1895 in 45-70……. before I could get the pistol permit and still figuring out other options.

      • I own both but wouldn’t rock either one as a HD gun. Those slots are already filled for me.

        I just want to see the headline: Three shot, one bayonetted in local home invasion. Because that would be cool.

        A home invasion in [local town] left three perpetrators dead when the homeowner responded with a WWII rifle, shooting three of the suspects before bayonetting a forth in close combat.

        When reached for comment, Police said crime scene was “fuckin’ epic” and repeatedly referenced Saving Private Ryan and Enemy at the Gates before stating that the homeowner will not be charged with a crime and may, in fact, receive a medal for the historically accurate and utterly badass way he dispatched his final adversary.

        Police spokesperson, Lt. Jackboot McFuckFace, stated “This is, hands down, the coolest crime scene we’ve ever had. I mean, he bayonetted a guy like it was the battle of Stalingrad or something! Skewered that guy like a pig! Within the department we’re starting a pool for other cool old weapons that we hope will make an appearance, like a thrown tomahawk and a cauldron of boiling oil.

        • Dang it strych9! I have an upper-respiratory infection which has generated a lot of gunk in my lungs and I kept laughing so hard that my lungs were crackling!

      • A couple days after I got my first M44 I came home to find my roommate bayonetting an old easy chair with it.

        He gave me this weird look and said the bayonet felt good sliding through the old leather.

        Obviously, my testing confirmed that he was correct.

        That’s possibly the best $80 I spent in college. Gun’s cherry AF too. Still have it.

    • I keep a M-9 bayonet on 1 of my home defense Bushmasters for up close and personal work.

  12. Depends on the individual. Some people may max out on a .22. If the individual knows nothing about firearms then first they should educate themselves by reading, etc. Second find a competent instructor who has various firearms, a decent range, etc. Down the line claborate with the instructor for a firearm to purchase and train with it until it’s time to advance. Owning a firearm is a serious commitment, I.E. you have to know where it is and what it is doing 24/7, etc.

    • Debbie, why aren’t you in the kitchen cooking up some hors d’oeuvres for the menfolk? Maybe also bring out a round of cold beers for the guys, sweet cheeks.

  13. As of now a high capacity 9mm platform and a mag fed semi auto rifle in 5.56 or 7.62X39 is the every man’s load out.

    Whatever brands you put in will likely be okay from a PSA happy meal combo with a pistol and rifle to a $3K AR/SCAR/whatever with a $2500 gucci gun.

    Be sure you’ve got 5-10 mags for each and 1K+ rounds of ammo, and you’re more prepared than most with some practice. Actually test and run your stuff so you know it’s okay. Even fancy stuff can be dead on arrival.

    Some flashlights and 18650s wouldn’t hurt either plus a way to charge on the go, even if slowly.

    • 10-30 round AR-15 mags+1 60round,10-30 round AR-10 mags+1 60 round and bipod, 10 mags of each handgun. 1000 rounds minimum per firearm not just caliber. 500 rounds per shotgun and 1000 rounds minimum of 22 LR rifle and pistol if you have one and don’t forget the Tannerite…lots and lots of Tannerite for perimeter security.

  14. Learn your selfdefense/possession laws. Then buy a gun.

    If you are truly a beginner, get a .357 4″ wheel gun, and whatever it takes to dry fire it safely…

    Then buy a box of ammo.

    Your results may vary.

  15. I’ve always thought that until some one has some knowledge or experience with gunms the semi automatics should be last on the list.
    Tap rack bangs are rare with a double action or break open shotgunm.
    I know of three people who shot themselves holsteining their auto’s and only one who shot themselves selves with a double action. More accidental discharges with a semiautomatic then revolvings.
    Semiautomatics require more maintenance.
    A second wild shot is more apt to happen with a semiautomatic.
    Once some experience or training is achieved there is nothing wrong with a semiautomatic.
    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  16. “A second wild shot is more apt to happen with a semiautomatic.”

    Not to mention a wild 1st, 3rd, and 4th shot :p.

    “Get’r rolling and walk it in.” – anon

  17. First gun for anyone should be a 22LR. While I do like the idea of a major caliber firearm for self-defense, the noise and recoil of a major caliber round can be too much for the inexperienced shooter. I do think that a revolver with 22LR and 22 WMR cylinders is the most viable option for a first gun. Seen too many future shooters develop bad habits and technique because they were “overpowered” by a major caliber before they were proficient with the basics. A newbie at the range with a major caliber handgun that they don’t know how to handle is too scary for me. I hate to have a loaded gun pointed at me, with a finger on the trigger, by a newbie, again

  18. A new shooter should never choose a striker-fire pistol. No one should learn to shoot with a pistol with a subpar trigger. I have been shooting pistols for over 45 years, when the Glocks hit the market I was excited until I shot one. I have only fired 2 striker-fired pistols with triggers that could be considered decent. A hammer-fired pistol will on average have a much smoother trigger pull than a striker-fired pistol. A new shooter should learn how to shoot with a pistol with the best possible trigger pull they can afford.
    Why put them at a disadvantage right off the bat with a striker-fired pistol?

    • Short of a major defect, if the trigger is a major hang up in your shooting and you’re not discussing serious, high end, competition, the problem ain’t the trigger.

      You should be learning on the harder stuff anyway, then the better gear is gravy. The reverse is not true.

      • “You should be learning on the harder stuff anyway, then the better gear is gravy.”

        I have to say it’s true that nothing helped my shooting more than spending a lot of time practicing with my DAO snubnose revolver.

    • So what you are saying is that you trained for many years with a trigger different than the industry standard and then found it difficult to adapt. Sounds like a good reason to start a beginner off with a striker-fired pistol.

  19. If you are going to keep it locked up and/or unloaded. Save your money for a funeral.

  20. It’s a ridiculous question that has no meaning.

    In reality, the average person will buy a Glock and an AR15 then come to realize it really isn’t what they want, like, or can put into actual use. It’s why these two are among the most returned firearms.

    You should this
    You should that

    No, quit being lead by the nose and buy what you want.

    • What’s hard to “put into actual use” abut a Glock or AR15? I have no idea what you mean by that.

      • Did you not read Elmer Fudd below?

        Do you really think every human can hold, control, manipulate, or legally have possession of any kind of AR15? This is exactly what I’m talking about. You might own one and that’s fine but that does NOT mean someone else also does. Many people do and many others don’t for all kinds of reasons. I certainly think they are easy enough to put into actual use but that means nothing to other people.

        It’s this kind of attitude about guns the men use as justification for buying guns ‘for’ the women in their life.

        Recoil, trigger control, the four basic rules of guns, and the price ammo are usually the best reasons to start a beginner on .22lr then work up to larger calibers as the person gets more comfortable. This article is about self defense but a person that never fired a gun WILL usually shy away from them if they are started out with heavier stuff like .357 or most rifle rounds. This is not news to most of you here.

        357 does make for a fantastic defense caliber and so does 12ga and .223. A huge number of people buy 9mm Glocks too. But that does NOT mean that everyone can (even effectively) put them into actual use. Even in places where you can legally own something, the person running the house might forbid it.

        • It was an article about defensive weaponry. The .22LR isn’t really in that category except in extremis. Yes, you should probably have one for cheap practice. But telling someone they shouldn’t defend themselves until they’ve practiced up on a .22 is kinda arrogant and demeaning.

  21. Your pistol is for fighting your way back to your rifle that you never should have left – Clint Smith

    Me, I always have a couple of Shotguns nearby. You won’t like coming at me even from a distance (I do have a rifle at hand too)

  22. In spite of my moniker, I will not castigate you for not recommending a shotgun. While the .410 bore, twenty gauge and sixteen gauge are more manageable, the recoil from a 12 gauge can be brutal for most people.

    That being said, there are a lot of people who live in jurisdictions where a handgun, particularly a standard capacity semiautomatic pistol, are not available to most people. Even if they might be technically legal, the bureaucratic barriers are extreme. The same is true for semiautomatic rifles.

    While break action shotguns have extreme tactical limitations, semiautomatic shotguns and pump action shotguns can be more effective. That politically correct “sporting” shotgun for shooting little birdies, moles in your yard, or wascally wabbits can easily be upgraded with a rifled slug barrel (which increases the dispersion of buckshot making it more effective at normal combat ranges). Changing out the barrel on most pump action and semiautomatic shotguns requires no tools and about a minute. Be certain to swap out for a barrel with decent sights.

    The greatest advantage of a shotgun is judge and jury appeal. Most big city judges and jurors are morons who fear guns and hate gun owners. For some imbecilic reason, a 12 gauge shotgun which is seventy-three caliber seems far less threatening to them than an AR-15 rodent rifle which is only twenty-two caliber.

    Of course an even more effective legal ploy might be to just shoot, shovel and shut up.

    • Elmer:
      You KNOW that “…shoot, shovel and shut up” is BS. If you don’t know that, then I pity you. And if you were to do such a thing, odds are you would wind up in the slam for decades.

  23. Buy what fits you ergonomically and you can shoot well.
    A Kimber, Les Bauer, Dan Wesson may cost more than that fake Glock, but not only do they work great, they can be passed down to your kids and grandkids as heirlooms. That fake Glock no one gets excited about.
    I would never own a AR15.

  24. Considering this is America and for the most part, we are not limited, get whatever you want if you’re going to stick with just the basics my advice would be a .22 LR (rifle and pistol) 9mm, 5.56, 7.62×54

  25. 1: A compact 9MM pistol along the lines of a Glock 19 or if you prefer hammer fired something of the same size. Bonus points for taking a class to learn the basics of shooting pistols which will only help one choose better a pistol that suits them. Bonus point for using a 9MM laser training cartridge to practice dry fire which will make it much more fun and productive.

    2: Ruger 10/22 rifle. Fun and cheap to shoot and great way to improve marksmanship with a rifle.

    3: 22LR Pistol. Hard to beat Browning Buckmark or Ruger Mark series to start with. Excellent way to work on pistol marksmanship without distraction of loud muzzle blast and recoil.

    4:12 gauge pump action shotgun for self defense or hunting.

  26. There is an important consideration that the author of this article did not review: maintenance.

    If you are a “handy” person who has a knack for tinkering with and fixing things, then a semi-auto pistol and AR-15 rifle are dandy choices. If you are NOT “handy”, then I recommend a revolver and pump-action shotgun for self-defense. Why? Because operating and more importantly cleaning revolvers and pump-action shotguns are much simpler/easier than semi-auto pistols and AR-15 rifles.

    In terms of caliber of a revolver, tried-and-true .38 Special is sufficient for all but the most dire of situations, produces modest recoil, is readily available, and is reasonably inexpensive. In terms of shotgun gauge, 20 gauge is excellent for defending against all human attackers and most animal attackers (when loaded with slugs) as well–and produces less recoil than 12 gauge shotguns. Oh, and 20 gauge shells are readily available everywhere and just as inexpensive as 12 gauge shells.

    Note that you could go with a semi-automatic shotgun if you are concerned that you would fail to pump it properly in a terrifying home-defense situation.

    • Yeah US when I became a gun owner 13 years ago I wasn’t “gun handy”. I had zero instructions save YouTube & gun magazines. Hadn’t shot a gat since I was a kid. Someone commented on TTAG perhaps 10 years ago that I “knew a lot” after only shooting for a couple years. Motivation is powerful teacher!

    • Oh, and 20 gauge shells are readily available everywhere and just as inexpensive as 12 gauge shells.
      I would disagree with this, having spent time watching for those two gauges for several months. You will need to watch for 20ga, and stockpile when you find it.

  27. everybody knows
    all you need is:
    a pcc that runs on glock mags
    and an overpriced
    under accurate
    late 1940s soviet design
    magazine fed semiautomatic rifle

    • At room distances even a 1940s under accurate soviet design magazine fed semiautomatic rifle will do the job.

  28. I had DebbieW tweak an AK for me and it shoots dime sized groups up to a distance of 9,447 yards.

  29. Having a large selection of firearms won’t help if you are not emotionally and physically fit. Can you run 100 yards without passing out? Enough about that!

    A 10/22 ruger, a reliable 9mm, pump shotgun and what’s wrong with a lever rifle? Plenty good old 30/30’s out there. Fast, easy handling, simple, safe and reliable with iron sights. Even better in .357, 44 mag or 45 colt. And the best part, you can legally hunt with those calibers. Just my .23 cents worth (adjusted for inflation).

  30. Guns are not a ‘hobby’. They are insurance, or a vaccine, or a prophylactic.

    Maintenance of at least one fighting rifle and ammo is a civic obligation. Between genocide, democide, ethnic cleansing, slavery, colonial exploitation, wars of aggression and terrorism, government kills more people than any other problem, surpassing malaria and famine.

    6000 years of history proves armed populations are the only effective deterrent to the persistent pathologies of government.

  31. Basic pistol; DO NOT choose the original Smith & Wesson “Shield M&P9”. The Shield Plus or 2.0 might be OK, but the original Shield has a VERY stiff recoil spring, and I have difficulty pulling the slide back. Early in the day, I’m OK, but by mid-afternoon, I cannot do it. I haven’t had any problem with my Taurus G3.

    I’d also recommend a light/laser combo such as the Streamlight or Viridion for whichever pistol you choose.

    And I’d also recommend a simple pump-action shotgun for “hallway encounters”.

    • AR-15s are outlawed in many parts of the country. I’ve suggested to friends who live in California or Massachusetts that they fill the rifle slot with a pistol caliber lever-action, but I’d be curious to know your advice for folks in that position.

    • Ken Mitchell:
      “…the original Shield has a VERY stiff recoil spring, and I have difficulty pulling the slide back.”
      I had the same problem with my Springfield XDs 9 Mod. 2, which is also striker fired. My solution was to trade it for an S&W Equalizer, which is fired by a concealed hammer and is now my EDC. Because a hammer-fired pistol is cocked during the slide’s rearward recoil motion, the recoil spring doesn’t have to be extra stiff to store enough oomph to cock a striker during return-to-battery. No more abused fingers for me!

  32. I struggle to imagine a true defensive scenario where an AR-15 is better than a shotgun. You’re not going to be getting into long-range firefights (where an AR is unquestionably superior) in a defensive scenario. And that’s not even getting into the wall penetration issue. At self-defense ranges, a shotgun hits a lot harder and in my experience is easier to get on target (of course, YMMV). And I know full well that you can’t count on the spread of the pellets to make up for poor aim/technique.

    And for shotguns, semi-autos are easier to learn, especially for a beginner. In my opinion, unless you have thousands of shells on the ground, they are more reliable than a pump, which is easy to short stroke, especially in a high-stress situation. The only thing about semi-autos is you need to make sure they like your ammo, but modern semi-autos are extraordinarily reliable across a wide range of ammo.

    Yeah, you don’t get to play Hollywood and “rack your shotgun” with a semi-auto. You shouldn’t be doing that anyway in a life-and-death situation.

    • The AR15 has less recoil and a slightly shorter profile if you’re staying in the “legal”/non-NFA area. (That excludes the new non-shotgun shotguns, but those are harder to manage than a stocked weapon.) And, 30 rounds is better than 5 in a panicky situation, particularly with the prevalence of multi-perp home invasions nowadays.

      BUT, those are all things you should be considering if you have to choose. If you don’t have to choose, then don’t. Have an AR and a shotgun. And then you can decide which to use for various situations. For me, the AR fits under my bed better. 😉

      • Recoil can be an issue for some people, though less so with a 20 gauge. Of course, you should shoot what you are comfortable with and have trained with.

        I think ARs are the right tool for a different job than self-defense in the home. Ranges are short, very short, in the home. Self-defense outside the home would be a handgun, of course.

        If you run through 30 rounds in a self-defense situation, you’re probably panic firing. My shotgun has seven in the pipe and 6 more on board in a sidesaddle – more than I will ever need for self-defense.

  33. Unfortunately, I live n NY State where AR’s are so restricted and it’s more than difficult to get a handgun permit. I’m comfortable in knowing I have a 12ga pump and a Henry Long Ranger Express in 556, either of which I’m sure will deter all comers.

  34. First: a Glock 19 compatible. It will take the ammo and magazines from most Police departments.
    Second: The same with an AR in 5.56mm
    Third: A Smith & Wesson 15/22. A good .22 rifle AND a great trainer for the AR
    Forth: A Glock Model 44 in .22 a good 22 pistol AND a great trainer for the Glock 19

  35. I would argue that they should consider a revolver and a lever action carbine, or a pump shotgun. Wood furniture. Classic. Minimally threatening in appearance.

    Because it might not look as bad to a jury, compared to something black and tactical and scary-looking.

    That said. There are a lot of good reasons to consider using .223 in, say, an apartment building where overpenetration is a major concern.

    Think about local laws, local culture, local prosecutors, etc. Maybe talk to a local attorney and get some input.

    Tactical guns are great. But they scare grandma. People often make decisions more based on emotions than facts. Until that changes, stack the deck in your own favor, and save them for hunting and range days. I know it sounds Fudd-ish, but the reality of the situation is that pro-gun people are not necessarily all that likely to be sitting on your jury. This is about staying on the outside of the jail, so you can exercise your rights with whatever guns you want at a later date.

Comments are closed.