What You Carry

Your choice of defensive pistol should be tailored to how you live your life.

posted on March 18, 2022
Sheriff Jim Wilson

I often wonder how much real thought goes into the selection of a personal defense gun by most people.  In a lot of the defensive pistol classes we see people with guns that are too small, guns that don’t fit their hands, or guns that they obviously don’t understand.  In short, for whatever reason, they have saddled themselves with guns that don’t meet their needs.

Before spending the money, a person might want to ask themselves what they intend to actually do with the gun, what chores it will actually perform.  My own situation might serve as an example.

While I like certain semi-auto pistols, I generally only carry them while teaching, just because the majority of students will be shooting some sort of semi-auto.  In the rural setting in which I live, my regular carry gun is nearly always a Smith & Wesson 2 1/2-inch Model 19-3 revolver.  In that environment, I have had to deal with rabid/feral dogs, coyotes, bobcats, feral hogs, and a whole bunch of rattlesnakes.  I not only need a gun that is accurate at longer ranges, I need a gun that will handle a variety of different power levels. 

But, wait, you might ask, “Aren’t we talking about personal defense against bad guys?”  In truth, we are talking about personal defense against any kind of critter that can hurt you and yours – bad guys included.  And I can personally testify that the S&W Model 19 will work when confronted by bad guys – if you can shoot.

As a general rule, I keep the gun loaded with Winchester .38 Special +P, 158-grain lead hollow points (the old FBI load).  I have a 6-round ammo pouch on my belt and a speed loader in my vest pocket.  But, I also keep handy a number of Bianchi Speed strips close at hand, some loaded with shot shells, some with 158 gr hardcast SWC ammo, and some with .357 Magnum ammo – in case our local Sasquatch gets rabies.

My primary reason for selecting the Model 19 is that I shoot it well.  However, other considerations are that it is relatively easy to conceal, under a vest or in my leggings pocket.  Also, being a well-made revolver, it is about as reliable as any handgun a person might find. 

Now, let me be clear, I am not suggesting that everyone needs to run out and buy a revolver.  What I am suggesting is that each person needs to give serious thought about what chores they expect their defensive handgun to take care of.  The fellow who lives and works in a big city will probably have different needs than I do.  We should each make our decision based upon those personal needs as opposed to whatever the latest fad might be.


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