I’ve never shot before and I’m looking to buy a pistol for self defense, what should I get?
First, I would suggest training, with a qualified instructor. Firearms are not like Point and Shoot cameras, and one size doesn’t fit all. Check your local ranges for recommendations on instructors, they are a pretty good source. An instructor will often have one or two guns you can try, and many ranges rent firearms. The idea is to get a feel for what fits your hand the best.
For personal defense, especially if you are going to carry concealed, I recommend a full to mid-sized Modern Striker Fired Semi-Automatic pistol in 9mm caliber. Look at the Glock 17 or Glock 19, the Smith and Wesson M&P or the Springfield XD (although the XD has a grip safety so you have to be sure your grip is perfect). Extensive testing has shown minimal differences in the wounding capacity for a .38, 9mm, 40 caliber or 45 caliber. However, the 9mm is generally less expensive (for practice ammunition) and recoil recovery is faster so you can get more shots on target in a shorter time to stop a threat. For defensive ammunition you are looking for modern Bonded Hollow Points, 124 grain or higher, grain referring to the weight of the bullet. Bonded means that the copper jacket is bonded to the lead and it is more stable.
Try out a couple of the guns, see what is a good fit for your hand and your budget. The guns listed above aren’t fancy, they don’t have a lot of buttons and levers. They are defensive work-horses and really, isn’t that what you want? Something reliable, functional and efficient.
But…start with training!
The Gun Whisperer
This article is not intended to provide legal advice, nor is the substitute for consultation with a trained or certified gun-smith or trainer in making any particular decision or election not to act. Laws, customs, and weapons choices vary widely within states across the country for reasons ranging from climate, general and specific dangers, and political philosophy.