I've taken a basic safety class and gotten a license to carry (I live in MAss), and been to the range a few times to practice. I'm looking for opinions on a number of issues from the experts here:
1) deciding between revolver and semi-auto. One thing I've been told conflicting stories about is storing ammunition in the clip for extended periods of time: if I have a clip with bullets in it and it sits unused for months, will the spring in the clip get ruined making it unworkable when you pick up the gun to use it? That is, do I need to empty the clips for storage and load them each time or can I leave a clip loaded for long periods of time without worrying that it will be ruined and unusable when needed?
2) deciding on model of handgun and ammunition type. I know there's no one right answer but here are my parameters. I'm 5'6", and 140 lbs, and I do surgery-like work with my hands, so I don't want a ton of recoil. I tried a small revolver the other day with 38 special bullets, and it was too much - I've got a bruise and a sore hand, which is fine if it's an emergency situation but I can't have that on a regular basis for practicing with this thing or it will mess with my job. I then tried a bigger revolver and a 9mm, both of which were ok recoil-wise. However, the smaller one would sure be easier to conceal-carry! Someone then suggested I try a 22, but as I understand, the self-defense aspect of the 22 is not great. So, I guess my questions are:
- is there a compromise between something that's small enough to carry every day (and my clothes are light enough that a big gun will make a visible lump) and something that's big enough that it won't beat up my hand?
- is there any 22 round that actually has significant stopping power?
Thanks in advance for any wisdom from you all.
1) As far as magazine springs, they have, for the most part, solved that with recent designs. I store a LOT of my AK ammo in the magazines. I'm not sure if I would trust a magazine that sat loaded for a few years, but even a few months wouldn't be an issue.
As far a revolver vs. auto, It's a personal preference thing, and a question of intended role.
Double Action revolvers are dead simple to load and shoot. Even someone unfamiliar with handguns would be able to figure out loading, unloading, and shooting it. It is, for the most part, very reliable. The gun isn't dependent on a recoiling slide to load the next round, the entire operation is manual, so no limp wristing, stovepipes, and many other automatic associated malfunctions. Furthermore, they are not sensitive to bullet shape, power fluctuation, etc. And finally, you can load more powerful rounds into a revolver than most autoloaders. The recoil is distributed along the top strap, as opposed to a small recoil lug. This allows for powerful rounds to be crammed into simple and relatively inexpensive firearms. Compare a .44 Mag Taurus at $450-500 to a .44 Mag Desert Eagle at 3 times that price.
However, revolvers do have their disadvantages. Long, somewhat heavy triggers take training to shoot WELL at SPEED. Ammo capacity is limited to 5-8 rounds. Reloads take practice to do quickly, and are much more complex than dropping and inserting a new mag. So, while they may be simpler to use, they still take a lot of practice to use well.
Automatics advantages have been covered well already, so I'll leave that be. Disadvantages include more common malfunctions (FTF, FTE, out of battery, stovepipes, etc), the need for preloaded mags, etc, and a level of finickiness to certain ammo types or bullet shapes.
2. A good, mid to full sized 9mm auto would likely be a good choice for moderate recoil, sufficient power, and good shootability. The Glock 19, Sig P250 Compact, and XD9 SubCompact might be good choices for some level of concealability while maintaining good handling characteristics. For a very low recoil round that can do some actual damage, there is always the FN Five-seveN, but the ammo is pricey, and there is a stigma since Ft. Hood. I can't speak to it's effectiveness versus something like a 9mm, but I do know it is MUCH more effective than .22 LR or Mag when placed correctly. The Hornaday V-max rounds do insane things in ballistics gel tests.
Finally, a good carry rig (quality belt, holster, etc) is easily as big a factor in carry comfort as the size of the gun. An all steel Govt. 1911 can carry very well with a comfortable holster. Galco, BladeTech, Milt Sparks, Dale Fricke, are all holster manufacturers that make top notch gear.
Also, I won't get involved in the debate of the viability of Sigs, but I know I would take a Sig over almost ANY other handgun, any day of the week. They are damn reliable handguns. All else is secondary.