seeking advice on owning my first handgun


September 19, 2007, 01:31 AM
hello all...i have read with amusement the 45 vs. 9mm debate...i lean toward the .45 because i'm 6'4", 250, and about to be a personal bodyguard for a living. A while back, i was a bouncer at a strip club, and the ex-marine armed security dude swore up and down that the .45 in any iteration was the best there was. It's been awhile, but the biggest I've ever fired was a Desert Eagle .410...plenty of kick to it, but nothing i couldn't handle. Here's my question--i need a sidearm that is reliable, reasonably concealable, and will strike fear into the heart of my protectee's meth-head ex boyfriend...price is no object, as it is being paid for by my employer. I'd love some input from someone who's not trying to sell me anything.

Thanks, guys...

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September 19, 2007, 02:23 AM
First, welcome to THR. Advice to start with is worry about the hardware later. Right now you need software. Given your very near future line of work get some training. NRA Basic Pistol course or a similar beginners intro course at your local range is where you should start. You need to learn what fits you, what points naturally for you, and what you shoot well. After that you'll know the firearm platform you want to go with, and you can then worry about caliber. Anything from a .38 Special or 9mm on up loaded with quality defensive ammo will do just fine. You also need to get to professional advice on the laws in your jurisdiction; what are the requirements for use of deadly force, what do you need to do to carry legally on your person and in your vehicle, etc. There's plenty of quality hardware out there in wide range of prices, but right now you need to learn how to use it with utmost skill. Stay safe and keep asking questions.

September 19, 2007, 02:39 AM
Man, you've got so many options its not even funny. I have a generic answer for this question and thats "Go shopping, hold some weapons and pick what feels good in your hand. Then spend a lot of time practicing with it" but since you're actually looking for recommendations I'm a fan of Springfield. I own several of their pieces and haven't had any issue. The XD line is comparable to Glock pistols in most key areas, but add the grip safety, which I like, you also get the loaded chamber and cocking indicators, which in the dark can let you know the gun's readiness by mere touch.
As for my two cents on the power/cartridge debate. I work for a police agency, I'm not an officer but I do help compile reports so I see the end results of weapon usage beyond just what I know from my personal experiance. The .45 hardly ever fails to stop someone when you do your part. The 9mm fails more often than the .45, but its still a very small percentage of the time that the 9mm doesn't do its job with good shot placement. Using what I know and putting some scenes together in my mind about what a body guard detail would involve I would more recommend the 9 mostly out of over penetration thoughts and a 9 is lighter recoiling so you can follow up as necessary. I know many will rebuke that claim, but I own both and me, personally, can do better with rapid fire strings with the 9. I'm 6'4 and 300 lbs.

All that being said my recommendations are a Glock 17 or Springfield XD9 I own one of each and neither have never failed to fire after thousands of rounds.
They are dead comparable in price and reliability, and if you like the feel, I doubt they'll ever cause a second guess.

September 19, 2007, 02:40 AM
I was typing while ugaarguy was posting, I agree with him and feel silly for not mentioning the same, know your local statutes and get all the training you can

September 19, 2007, 02:56 AM
Agree with ugaarguy's post.

I have been one that used BodyGuards, in a work.
THE skill sets were reading people, places and things.

I would recommend contacting SouthNarc and taking instruction from him and his folks. IIRC, SouthNarc is scheduling with Tom Givens at Rangemaster in Memphis, TN in the near future.
This would be an ideal training opportunity.

I use the term "Street Smarts" to describe how I was raised, in a work, that Security is paramount.

Reality is, some places are "sterile", meaning NO firearms, due to Regulations, and Statues. Reinforced by metal detectors, wands and being patted down.

Areas such as Gov't owned buildings, and Airports, and even legal signage stating NO CCW.

Defensive Driving is another useful skill set.

Guns are fine and dandy, once one actually shoots a variety under qualified instruction to access and find out what that individual actually shoots best with - and BUGs.

Then again knowing for instance the "3+1" SouthNarc teaches, which are the signals one is about to have their butt kicked, is a real good skill set to have.

Avoid trouble, leave when trouble shows up, and if one cannot leave, knowing how to effectively use a variety of tools, including a firearm, to get out of trouble.

One young lady , bodyguard, petite thing, can flat drive a limo, or any vehicle, she can smell trouble from a distance, prefers a .44 Special for Primary and BHP/1911 for BUG.
Then again she can kill someone seven different ways with a tongue depressor.

Software first.

September 19, 2007, 02:59 AM
gonepostal42 said: and will strike fear into the heart of my protectee's meth-head ex boyfriend..

If things got to the point you're using the gun on a protective detail, you really screwed something up.

The gun is not a magic talisman used to scare off evil. Perhaps your employer would be willing to spend the money on something just basic for the gun, and use the rest to finance some good training.

September 19, 2007, 03:15 AM
I totally agree with the training suggestion but don't think that is what you want to hear.

Guns are not meant to strike fear into people, they are meant to stop people. In that regard the 45 is an excellent choice. Find a good instructor and let him help you with the firearm purchase.

September 19, 2007, 06:49 AM
thank you all for your suggestions...I have worked in security in every capacity but the firearms part--i highly agree that if you even have to draw the weapon, things have likely gotten out of hand, and that's a worst case scenario that i doubt realistically will ever the event that a certain m.f. breaks his restraining order or there's some random bad guy in a 7-11, i guess i was looking for a recommendation on the most relaible and perhaps personal preferences from an unbiased source...CCW license and appropriate training are in progress...and we live in AZ, which is right up there with Texas as far as supporting the 2nd ammendment. As far as defensive driving, I'm pretty good to start with, but there is a section about that in one of the security training courses I'm taking...and let's just say i didn't always live on the respectable side of the law...I've seen some pretty dicey situations before and I have always been able to use diplomacy effectively. But again, there's that "what if" factor...which is why my employer wants me armed. So, to put it another way, are there any models of weapon that anyone would advise against?

thanks again...

September 19, 2007, 07:19 AM
This has been an excellent thread.

I have 10 great hand guns and plenty of holsters. Perhaps that suggests more time should have been spent renting and trying out guns at the range.

Many consider the Glock 19 to be the most popular 9mm in the world. It has a capacity of 15 + 1 in the chamber.

You could safely load Gold Dot 124 grain +P and never look back.

For what it's worth, I believe that police most often carry the Glock 22, which uses .40 S&W ammunition.


September 19, 2007, 08:20 AM
Some people still believe that the mil spec 1911 is the finest combat weapon ever made.I share that opinion provided the owner trains enough to be proficient.Something related to fear and common sense kicks in when looking down the business end of a .45. Add a red laser dot for maximum effect.

September 19, 2007, 09:14 AM
Good advice from everyone.

I want to reemphasize that you need to find what handgun fits you and points naturally for you. Once you find that out then any quality firearm will do. Look at Pax's site ( for a detailed explanation (with pictures and diagrams) of how to make sure that a handgun fits you.

With your size you should be able to handle almost any double stack large caliber handgun comfortably. Then it becomes primarily an issue of grip angle to match you.

As to guns to avoid? I'm not sure how to respond without making assumptions about what you know is junk already. Stick with major American/Canadian and European manufacturers. H&K, CZ, Sig, Browning/FN, S&W, Glock, Springfield, Para, Kimber, etc. They will provide good handguns. Just find what fits and go with that and get some intensive training.

September 19, 2007, 09:51 AM

UGA and others have touched on the most important aspect, which is training and mindset.

You have acknowledged their thoughts, so I won't repeat what they have said, other than to say I agree with them.

With that being said, I highly suggest you find a range near you that rents handguns and try out several different options.

Some of the others around here can correct me if anything below is inaccurate:

Sounds like you have focused on autoloaders, so we'll leave revolvers out of the discussion for now.

With that being said, you have some options as to how they are constructed, which greatly effect comfort when carrying, rust resistance, capacity, etc.

Polymer guns are my favorite. They have a polymer frame, that can take a lot of abuse and show little signs of it. Most polymer frame guns have a high round capacity.

Some of the more common Polymer guns are:
Great gun. More expensive, but expense doesn't appear to be an issue here. H&K features ambi controls, if you are a lefty. Their 45 is a very popular choice.
Glock made the polymer pistol popular. The Glock 21 is a good choice in .45cal. Most people are either hot or cold on the Glock pistols. Newer generations have a molded grip that doesn't fit some people's hands. Other people complain about the grip angle, saying it hurts their wrists when firing. No matter the opinion, it is hard to argue that the Glock is one of the most reliable and popular handguns for personal and executive protection.
Smith and Wesson
Smith has a new polymer offering in .45cal. The M&P45 (military and police) is a nice gun. The M&Ps have interchangeable backstraps that help you custom fit the palm swell to your hand. These are very very comfortable guns, but their reliability has yet to be proven because they are fairly new on the market.

There are lots of other choices out there for polymer pistols. To name a few without going into detail:
Walther P99
Beretta PX4
Sig Pro
Springfield Armory XD (very popular 45 version)

Aluminum/lightweight metal
Then there are the aluminum and lightweight metal-framed pistols.

Sig Sauer
Sig probably produces one of the most popular metal-framed gun series, the Classic P-series. P-226 is available in 9mm and 40cal. The P220 is similar in size and weight, but is a 45 caliber. These pistols are very popular among executive security personnel as well.

Smith and Wesson
Smith has some metal framed guns that are decent as well and can generally be found at reasonable prices.

Smith also makes a nice line of lightweight 1911 style pistols in .45 that are reasonablity priced as well.

Springfield Armory
SA makes great 1911 style pistols. I own two and have been very pleased. If you're interested in a 1911, be sure to check out SA and S&Ws.

The Beretta 92 (similar to the standard military-issued M9) is also a good duty weapon. I don't have any personal experience with it, but it's hard to argue with all the police departments who are using this weapon.

Heavy Steel/Stainless Steel
Then there are some frames, most notably the mil-spec 1911, that are heavy as hell. If I'm carrying a gun that is heavy, it will be a 1911. No further on this topic.

So...there's a shallow primer on handguns. need to know about trigger selection, which is why my first recommendation of finding a range that rents is so important.

Trigger actions
There are several different types of triggers.
Glocks and most polymer pistols, generally speaking, are DAO, meaning that you have a consistent trigger pull from the first round to the last round out of the tube. These pistols do not have hammers, they are striker fired.

SA/DA (Single Action, Double Action) trigger is common on many of the aluminum and lightweight-framed pistols. These handguns have hammers, and can be manually cocked, placing the pistol in Single Action status. This means that the trigger pull is very light, when in single action. Typically, these pistols are carried with the hammer down, which allows for a very long first stroke of the trigger (double action - because as you pull the trigger, you are forcing the hammer back at the same time). When the round fires, the action of the slide automatically cocks the hammer for the next round, which leaves the gun in Single Action from the point forward (or until the gun is decocked.)

1911's operate in Single Action. This means that the hammer must be cocked in order for the gun to be fired. However these guns have two safeties to negate the danger of running around with a cocked gun. They have a grip safety, which is naturally engaged when you grip the pistol. They also have a thumb safety, which needs to be deactivated manually before the gun can be discharged. Standard carry method for 1911's is "Cocked and Locked," meaning there is around in the chamber, the gun is cocked, and the safety is activated.

Since the hammer on the gun is already cocked, the 1911 has a short trigger all the time - from first shot to last. Personally, I believe the 1911 has one of the best triggers of any handgun available. But you have to feel comfortable with the method of carry. Some folks do not.

There are so many variables when it comes to choosing a firearm. The best thing to do is get your feet wet by handling them in a safe environment and firing the ones that feel the most comfortable to you.

Whatever you choose to purchase, be sure to buy lots of ammo for practice. The best handgun in the world is useless if you can't hit anything with it.

Hope these semi-random thoughts are helpful.

Good luck to you, friend. And welcome to the High Road.

September 19, 2007, 10:04 AM
If you are going to conceal you may want to consider a single stack design, which I find more comfortable than a double stack and find prints less than a double stack. Two of my favorites for carry are the Sig Sauers (look into a P220 Carry or P245) and Kahrs. Also, if you like the 1911 design but want a double action, give the Para Ordnance LDA models out.

September 19, 2007, 10:14 AM
I'm surprised noone has mentioned a Desert Eagle in .50AE yet for maximum intimidation factor...

But if you're going low key, maybe you want the ultimate in concealability. Pocket carry. In that case you want one of the ultra compacts like the kahr PM series or the Kel-Tec PF-9...

September 19, 2007, 11:05 AM
Welcome to THR. Calibers 9mm, .40S&W, .357sig, .45gap, and .45acp will all perform well with modern defensive ammunition. Gold Dots, Gold Sabres, Ranger Talons, Fed HST are good examples. As long as you are using one of the above calibers with one of the above bullet designs, caliber selection is ALWAYS secondary to good shot placement.

I am 6'2, 240lbs, and can benchpress 405lbs. My wife is 5'1, 115lbs, and can benchpress about 120lbs. She can handle .44 magnum loads with skill. Recoil is subjective and skill in firearms use is more important than size or physical strength. Being big and strong only helps you in hand to hand conflicts, guns always even the playing field and if anything give the smaller person an advantage over the're a bigger target. That being said, for off duty or concealed carry I use a Sig 239 in 9mm. For duty carry I use a Sig P220 .45acp.

September 19, 2007, 12:08 PM
thanks again, everyone, for your advice and concern...sounds like a lot of you are or have been in law enforcement, so i'll certainly take all of your opinions into consideration. I agree that no gun will do anything more than trip metal detectors if you aren't trained on that's definitely part of the plan. From the research I've done, Phoenix has some good advanced weapons training programs...and we have the added bonus of being able to go out in the desert and shoot off asmany rounds as you want and not have to bother with finding a range ;)

I'll keep you all posted on my progress...thanks again everyone for helping to break in this newbie...i especially appreciate the discourse on polymer vs. steel knowledge is still pretty limited, and it means a lot that a perfect stranger would take the time to go into that much detail.

September 19, 2007, 12:16 PM
Go to your local range & shoot the guns you're considering. I've noticed that what works great for one guy could be a piece of junk to another. Sure, the usual suspects need to be mentioned -- HK, SIG, Glock etal, but the most important thing is the firearm that works for you & devoting the time & effort in mastering your platform of choice. What's more intimidating isn't the size of the bore, but the operator behind it who knows how to use it! :cool:

September 19, 2007, 12:56 PM
price is no object

I think you're best bet is to hold as many as you can, and shoot the ones that feel like a good fit. Maybe hit Scottsdale Gun Club and rent a few models to see which you like the best. they apparently have quite the rental selection:
SGC Rentals Link (

I've never been there, but I've sent a few firearms there for transfer, and my customers have told me they really like the place.


September 19, 2007, 02:27 PM
As far as the actual Hardware - the guns and all - keep in mind "we" are considered Old School.

Bone Stock 1911, with the Gov't Model of 1911, USGI/Colt 7 rd mags with dimpled follower.

Custom 1911 in 9x23mm, pretty simple and it fits the user.

BHPs in 9mm

Model 24 in .44 spl
Model 19, 66, and similar K frame .357s.
"We" feel the 3" RB K frame is the most effective combat wheel gun.
Model 29 (especially for car guns), with full house .44 mag loads

BUGs run from wearing an exact duplicate of Primary, to K frames, to J frames, to Colt Detective specials to the only poly gun used - the Kel-Tec P-11.

One highly recommended "tweak" is a 14k yellow gold bead for front sight.
This is a old gunfighters tool and affords one the ability to see front sight in all lighting conditions.

Shotguns: Most are bone stock, no side saddle, no mag extensions.
Ithaca 37 Riot, Model 97 Win, Model 12, 870, Super X Model 1 with a slug barrel, 1100s...Beretta 303, 390 and Stevens 311

ARs and Lever Actions in 30-30 are real popular.

Some "last ditch" guns include Beretta Jetfire, and NAA .22 mini revolvers.
Holsters run from IWB, OWB, Shoulder, Belly-Band, worn around neck and crotch holsters.
Custom tailored clothing to fit, and with built in holsters as well.

For instance, a lady can wear a dress, conceal a Model 24, or 1911, or BHP and readily access if need - the holster(s) are part of the clothing.

Case Bird & Trout knife, Buck 110, Case Mako Shark , and even Old Hickory Paring knives are used for edged weapons.

Canes, from Stockyard "cattle canes" to Cane Masters, to Custom "dress canes" with solid brass handles.

"Good" umbrellas are useful.

Learn how vehicle trunks work, and how to actually break out of one.

September 19, 2007, 02:41 PM
You live in Arizona? Get some real training at Gunsite. As for what type of gun or caliber, you will notice that most gun trainers favor M1911 in .45ACP, then it's probably a Glock in 9mm or .40S&W. There is a reason why these guns are commonly preferred as wll as the calibers.

September 19, 2007, 02:44 PM
price is no object, as it is being paid for by my employer.

You lucky bast... :D

September 19, 2007, 03:39 PM
gonepostal42 said: thanks again, everyone, for your advice and concern...sounds like a lot of you are or have been in law enforcement, so i'll certainly take all of your opinions into consideration.

Now, why go and insult us like that?

Seriously, Peace Officers are not gun people. Many shoot only what they need to qualify with, and they never shoot again until next qual.

September 19, 2007, 05:00 PM
I want to reemphasize that you need to find what handgun fits you and points naturally for you. Once you find that out then any quality firearm will do. Look at Pax's site for a detailed explanation (with pictures and diagrams) of how to make sure that a handgun fits you.

I like that site except for this part:
"For defense work, it is generally accepted that the distal crease of the finger should be on the face of the trigger, or lined up with the trigger's outside edge. For target shooting, the pad or tip of the trigger finger is often used. However, in both cases, you measure gun fit the same way -- with the crease rather than the tip of the finger on the trigger."

I've never heard this advice and frankly I consider it negligent. There's a reason target shooters use the pad of the finger: it allows more accurate fire and reduces gun movement during trigger pull. Telling defensive shooters to use the DIP joint is tantamount to telling them "when lives are on the line, it's good to use a less-accurate shooting technique." Other than that, the fit instructions are fairly good.

September 19, 2007, 05:01 PM
I would consider a 357 revolver for maximum mechanical reliability and a minimum possibility of user error under stress...Regarding the intimidation factor....looking at the business end, there is no doubt that it's loaded and ready to fire.

September 19, 2007, 05:51 PM
Does the price of ammunition matter at all? Because that could be the deal breaker between a 9mm and anything larger.

I purchased a 9mm for my first pistol and I was happy with the choice because it gave me a lot more rounds for my money. At the time of purchase, 9mm went for about $120 per thousand (which increased to $156 now) and .45 went for around double that for the same amount. Considering I felt like it took a good 1500 rounds until I felt like I was a decent shot, those costs do add up fairly quickly.

And don't let anyone tell you that 9mm won't cut it for SD either. Look up some studies on modern hollow points; I've seen the round expand to over .70 in certain cases. But really it's shot placement that counts more than anything, so you need to practice.

September 20, 2007, 01:55 AM
I actually find that, for myself at least, the difference in cost between between 9mm, 40 S&W and .45ACP is made up for by the time it takes to reload with a lower magazine capacity.

For example, with my .45s, I am usually loading up 5 to 7 round mags if I have my CCW .45s with me or 7 to 10 round mags if I have my full-size .45s. Meanwhile, my 9mm buddies are shooting 10 to 15 round mags (and some even have the 33 round mags). And, because they have the greater magazine capacity they are firing much quicker, often in double or triple taps. By the time our 45 minutes to an hour is up, they have fired much more of their cheap 9mm ammo than I have of my more expensive .45ACP ammo.

Old Dog
September 20, 2007, 02:38 AM
Harkening back to the OP's original post: It's been awhile, but the biggest I've ever fired was a Desert Eagle .410...

I remember the .41 AE (IMI/Jericho back in the early '90s) but I was unaware of a Deagle in the .410 chambering ...

At any rate, if price was no object, and I wasn't hung up on an autoloader, the S&W 627 .357 8-shooter with those excellent Ahrends finger-groove cocobolo stocks would be cool ... Especially if one could locate a pre-lock version ...

September 21, 2007, 01:55 PM
i think it was a desert eagle .410...although that was in the days before i quit drinking, so i can't be positive. after reading all the replies, i realize just how uninformed i i know i've got some work to do. Although, for maximum intimidation factor, i was at a pawn shop the other day and I saw a S&W .500 Magnum revolver with about a 9 or 10 inch barrel...not exactly concealable, but who cares? ;) a few posts back, someone mentioned the Desert Eagle .50...I remeber hearing that it was unreliable, though...any thoughts/advice on that one?

September 21, 2007, 02:25 PM

There's many reasons why you only see magnum calibers used by action heros in the movies. Once you've been in the service, or worked as an LEO you can understand this.

1) Weapon weight: A Desert Eagle weighs in at over 72oz, that is instanely heavy for a pistol to be used as anything other than a range toy or hunting pistol. You have to be comfortable, mobile, and agile in the protection profession. You want something that weighs in at 30-40oz for a duty weapon.
2) Muzzle Flash: Every pistol has a degree of muzzle flash that you will see in low light. The more powerful the cartridge, the greater the flash. Anything over a .45acp will have a large muzzle flash and WILL blind you temporarily after the first shot. Unless you took care of business with that first shot, you are now a blind man for several seconds which can get you killed.
3) Recoil: When the SHTF and you are fighting for your life, your heart rate goes from 70bpm to over 200bpm. When that happens you get tunnel vision, you cannot operate the control levers on your pistol adequately, and all you have left is gross motor skills which are the most basic of movements relying on muscle memory. Your aim will be way off and the faster your can recover after each shot gives you a better chance of hitting the bad guy which may also not be standing still.
4) Over penetration: If you don't mind being sued and going to prison, use a heavy magnum caliber that will "shoot through schools" and will hit people behind your target. You will be asked as to why you didn't use a common service caliber that didn't go through several people.

The recommended calibers for police, contractor, or military service are 9mm, .40S&W, .357sig, .45gap, or .45acp. If you are fascinated with large calibers, go with the .45acp. As far as trying to scare somebody by pointing or brandishing your will have to file a report to the police for the incident and your hiring agency(private or govt) will likely hold an investigation as to why you pull your weapon out of the holster in a threatening manner.

Armed professions whether they be private, state, govt, or military are highly restrictive in their regulations for weapons deployment and you will be investigated if you do so. If you were in the right according to agency policy, you will be fine. If not, expect your agency/employer to turn against you. Your tactical control over a hostile situation far outweighs any gun or caliber you may be using. Your brain, and your ability to effectively communicate with the aggressor always wins out over your equipment.

September 21, 2007, 03:47 PM

IMHO, first time gun to CCW, and be a paid body guard, after taking all the appropriate, required, courses, and pass the tests, I would steer you towards either a Sig P220 full size, or the Sig P220 Carry, both 45's.

Reasons: DA/SA, allows you to carry full magazine (whatever amount your State allows) frame mounted decocker-only, which allows you to maintain a good 2-hand grip while decocking the hammer/action out of SA mode, back into DA mode.

Field stripping ie disassemble, inspect, clean, and reassemble of the Sigs are about as EASY and FAST as it gets, bar none.

Myself, and A LOT of other owners of the P220 series 45's can attest to 1000's of rounds, both FMJ and JHP's without any failures of ANY kind.

One of the most accurate pistols NIB, to the first range visit, and either gun, having an Aluminum frame, make for far easier CCW time and weight, along with the ease of point to aim, and the balance of that act. And they all come with Sig Night Sights, nice feature.

But, as mentioned a 100 times, it's in "your hands" as too which gun, make, and model, fits the mold of your hand/s and arm/s as though "part of them."

The only other question may be; what type of round-count you feel most comfy with? As mentioned, Glocks for example, hold 15 rounds with double-stack magazines, compared to Sigs single stack mags.


September 22, 2007, 01:43 AM
thanks again...the advice from everyone here has been very insightful and appreciated. from the resesarch i've done and the ones i've held, i'll probably end up with a Glock, a Colt, or a Sig...and by all reckoning, i should never have to use it...and i'll certainly carry pepper spray, tazer, tactical baton, etc. as a first line of defense. After all, we don't want to kill my protectee's ex--we still want him to pay child support ;)

September 22, 2007, 10:57 AM
I get this question a lot. I'm new on the board, so please forgive me if I'm a little blunt.

The bottom line is that you have to pick a pistol that's comfortable for you to use. If you've never shot a pistol, then I'd suggest that you find someone (or several someones) and try out theirs. I own several handguns (which isn't a sign that I should have taken them for test drives, I just like to shoot a lot), so I generally get asked by folks to try them out.

Me? I'm a big fan of the .45 ACP. No, it's not the Holy Grail of cartridges, it's just the one I picked. I know lots of people who carry 9mm, .38 Spcl, .40 S&W, .357 Mag, etc.

When I get asked to walk someone thru their first pistol purchase, I ask a few basic questions--How much have you shot before this point? How much do you plan to practice? How much can you REALISTICALLY practice? Revolver or autoloader? Is magazine capacity important to you? How big are your hands? What's your normal mode of dress? Where are you planning on being when you're carrying?

Then I take them window shopping. Find a store with a good selection and try them out in the store. How do they feel? Can you reach the slide release? Can you reach the trigger consistently and comfortably? Does the mag release work well for you? When you bring it up, does it point naturally? Do you like the sights or will you need something else (especially important for those whose vision is compromised in some way)?

After they've found something (hopefully SEVERAL somethings) they like, I take them to the range (they pay for the ammo). If I have it, I let them shoot it. If not, I make arrangements with a friend who does to borrow it or ask them to come along (yes, I tell them that their guns are going to be shot by a relative novice). Shoot at targets as close as 7 yards and as far away as 20 yards (if they're going to get into competition at some point, more than 20 yards may come into play, but I usually keep it simple at first).

The important part of the range test is really whether they can actuate the pistol in field conditions AND whether it's comfortable enough to shoot with FACTORY ammo (they probably won't be reloaders at this point in their lives!) to practice with on a regular basis.

With any handgun, there are compromises and comfort of shooting is one of those things you have to factor in. Magnums will up the flinch factor, even in a combat environment!

That's my $.02.

Frag 3:16--Fear not the night, fear what HUNTS at night.
Frag 24:7--Those who live by the sword get shot by those of us who don't.

September 23, 2007, 10:37 AM
when you say "flinch factor" do you mean hesitation? and becaused i'm usually the type to err on the side of caution--better have it and not need it--what are your thoughts on the good old Ditry Harry .44 magnum? sidebar--to a novice like me, it would seem there isn't much difference between a .44 and a there?

September 23, 2007, 10:54 AM
The average .44magnum shoots a 240gr bullet at around 1400fps. The average .45acp shoots a 230gr bullet at 880fps with standard loads, and 980fps with high pressure loads. The energy recoil and muzzle flash of the .44mag is way above that of the .45acp. The .44mag will shoot through your suspect and hit who ever or what ever is behind him. With modern defense loads, the .45acp will make a large hole in the bad guy and will most of the time not penetrate all the way through him.

No doubt, the .44mag has more killing power, but it comes with a heafty price. You will have a limited magazine capacity, heavy recoil, large muzzle flash, overpenetration, a very heavy pistol, and poor ergonomics. All the hallmarks of what you DON'T want in a service pistol. Also, unless you are using a revolver, the .44mag cartridge is a rimmed cartridge which isn't as reliable in an auto pistol like the Desert Eagle.

In a service pistol, you want low recoil, good ergonomics(feels good in the hand), large magazine capacity, low muzzle flash, low pistol and ammunition weight, and perfect reliabilty. Pick a standarized service pistol in .45acp. Sig P220, H&K USP .45acp, Glock 21, Springfield XD .45acp, or Kimber 1911. Trust the professionals, not the movies.

Black Adder LXX
September 23, 2007, 11:30 AM

I just read this in another thread here by one of the mods and thought it might help you, too...

Originally posted by Justin:
Here's the basic test I've always used:
Pick the pistol up and get a good grip on it. Go to low ready.
Close your eyes.
With your eyes closed, bring the pistol up as if you were aiming it at a target.
Open your eyes and see if the sights are aligned.

Do this two or three times.

If the sights aren't aligned, or close to aligned, then try a different pistol.

September 23, 2007, 11:39 AM

I just read this in another thread here by one of the mods and thought it might help you, too...

Originally posted by Justin:

Here's the basic test I've always used:
Pick the pistol up and get a good grip on it. Go to low ready.
Close your eyes.
With your eyes closed, bring the pistol up as if you were aiming it at a target.
Open your eyes and see if the sights are aligned.

Do this two or three times.

If the sights aren't aligned, or close to aligned, then try a different pistol.

Yes and no. If you don't train very much, then picking a pistol that feels good to your untrained body is a good thing. However, you can train with any pistol design and coordinate your muscle memory so that it becomes more and more natural feeling as you train. Even the most awkward of pistol designs can feel comfortable and natural in your hand if you do repetative training. Repetition is the mother of skill.

Your first priority is always to pick the most reliable weapon system that you can find. If it does not properly function, then it doesn't matter how natural it feels, how accurate it is, how powerful it is, because it will be nothing more than a well machined club.

Jack A. Sol
September 23, 2007, 11:52 AM
if you want big and fear then a pistol gripped shot gun is the way to go!!
If you are not too stuck on bravado then you may condiser a fullsized 9mm. modern projectiles like the DPX, Gold Dot and Golden Saber all perform equally as well in penetration as a .45 but you get many more rounds into the magazine which is NOT a small thing to dismiss.
if you must have a 45, then consider an H&K USP fullsize. it should fit you nicely and carries enough lead to start a green peace demonstration. skip the single stack 45's in favor of the hi caps.
If you really want a single stack then the 50 GI is about as frightening and effective as you can get in a 1911.

for sheer handgun perfection the glock 10mm is almost perfect. the 10mm cartridge is awesome in it's full power iteration and the undisputed champion of factory cartridges

September 23, 2007, 12:31 PM
Yes and no. If you don't train very much, then picking a pistol that feels good to your untrained body is a good thing. However, you can train with any pistol design and coordinate your muscle memory so that it becomes more and more natural feeling as you train. Even the most awkward of pistol designs can feel comfortable and natural in your hand if you do repetative training. Repetition is the mother of skill.

This is more true when you only have one gun or multiple similar guns. However, when you very different guns and train often, you muscle memory can actually make its harder to go from one platform to another. I have a friend that has owned and trained with Glocks so much that he has become accustomed to their bore axis and extremely slanted grip angel. He also loves 1911s and S&W M&Ps now, but having trained so much with his Glocks, he finds it very hard to initially transition between shooting his 1911, Glock, and M&P.

September 23, 2007, 12:52 PM
This is more true when you only have one gun or multiple similar guns. However, when you very different guns and train often, you muscle memory can actually make its harder to go from one platform to another. I have a friend that has owned and trained with Glocks so much that he has become accustomed to their bore axis and extremely slanted grip angel. He also loves 1911s and S&W M&Ps now, but having trained so much with his Glocks, he finds it very hard to initially transition between shooting his 1911, Glock, and M&P.

This is precisely why the old saying rings true, "Fear the man who has only one gun, he will know how to use it.". The best pistol shooters in the world usually have only one make and model of firearm that they use. Not because it is the best design, but because it maximizes their training effectiveness. Shooting many different designs will play havoc with your muscle memory and impede your training effectiveness.

There comes a point when you have to decide if you want to collect pistols, or be the best gun fighter you can be. I own many different pistols, but I have adjusted my grip holds and operation of a pistol to a univeral method. I only use a pistol with a push button magazine release, my grip hold is a low rider in which I can use in all existing pistol models, and I don't use any other controls during operation. In the case of a DA/SA with decocker, decocking is an administrative move to be used after the threat is over. Slide release on a fresh mag is done by grasping the rear of the open slide with the right or left hand in a gross motor skill movement to chamber a round. Thumb side of the fist towards the chest. You need nothing else in combat other that using simple large muscle movements, tactical thinking, and acting as quickly as you can. Also be prepared to deal with malfuctions and the proceedures of dealing with each case. For instance dealing with a malfunction associated with a damaged extractor is a much different proceedure than dealing with a magazine not seated properly.

September 23, 2007, 01:55 PM
As mentioned and you acknowledged, training and practice are key

Aside from professional training, and paper practice, maybe also consider a SD oriented competitive shooting practice, like IDPA. I shoot IDPA and have done so since buying my first handgun this year. In a few months I've gotten pretty good and drawing from concealment and placing shots well on multiple targets in different scenarios.

That's what I like about IDPA, it gives you an opportunity to tackle different scenarios, drawing from concealment, retreat shooting, charge shooting, lateral move shooting, standing, sitting, kneeling, shooting from cover, avoiding innocent non-threat targets while still hitting the threat targets, body shots, head shots, etc.

Also, unlike some other competitive shooting sports, IDPA is typically shot w/ more or less stock guns, regular steel sights, no fancy mods, which is what you'll be carrying, know what I mean...

It is a competitive 'game' and not always 'real-word' but definitely would give you a chance to get some time w/ your pistol once you purchase it, and certainly a good way to put to use your learned skills and go beyond punching holes in paper at the typical range.

Still get the pro training and all that, but I'd recommend checking out something like IDPA, it's a lot of fun, and will tell you where you're at competency wise, especially when you see some of the better shooters, you'll know how far you have to go.

Good luck...


September 23, 2007, 08:15 PM
I realized I forgot to chime in on the HG...

I've thought about this too. For me, I ended up getting the Glock 19, which is a 9MM. Some reasons included:

Glocks in general, and particularly the 9MM, are thought to be very tough, simple, accurate pistols. Low maintenance and high reliability are very important to me. Whatever you choose, you better be sure it's gonna fire when/if you need it, which means a reliable weapon, w/ proven ammo that you've run through it...

Even those who dislike Glocks admit the Glock in 9MM is hard to beat, similar to how the 1911 in .45 is just meant to be.

Big enough to have a full hold on it, small enough to conceal.

Also big enough to have 15+1 w/ standard magazines, however you can add extensions or throw in the 17 mags for more capacity if desired, as well as compatability w/ Glock made 33rd mags for fun or SHTF.

W/ 16 rounds before the first mag change, you can react quickly to multiple targets, if need be.

Shot placement is key, under duress, that's 16 chances to place good shots, not that you should need that many in every circumstance.

I mentioned in the previous post I shoot IDPA. While some shoot their .45s, many shoot .45 styled guns in 9MM to score better, w/ quicker follow up shots, even though they may carry a similar .45 on the street. I'm not judging them, they may have valid reasons for doing so. Maybe there would be real world scenario where a few well placed .45 shots would out perform the same number of rounds from a 9MM, but I don't think you lose anything, and may gain something in other scenarios, by having more rounds in 9MM, but I think it's just different, not necessarily better or worse.

I wanted to practice alot, and I'm glad I started w/ the 9MM, since I ended up almost immediately getting into IDPA, I go through a lot of rounds, and it's pretty easy to get 9MM at a decent price, comparitively.

Again, I'm just trying to answer your question, but as others have said, I HIGHLY recommend finding a range that rents guns. You may not be able to get your hands on some high priced 1911s to rent, but many places will rent revolvers, Glocks, S&W M&Ps, and some of the other ones mentioned already in this thread. For me, while I found several guns that felt good in my hand, that wasn't enough for me, I wanted to buy something I knew I could shoot well out of the box, and improve on of course, but didn't want a steep learning curve, so I wanted to shoot whatever I was gonna buy before I bought it. I found that I shot the Glock better, even though I thought the M&P was more comfortable, for example.

Again, good luck...


September 23, 2007, 10:55 PM
I would look at the Springfield Armory XD45 Compact. It is a fairly compact package and should be easy enough to conceal for a big guy, plus you get 10+1 rounds of .45acp to start with and can reload with a 13 round magazine. It weighs less than a 1911 and the XD line of firearms are great (I own two). I carry a little snubbie but I am not in the same line of work you are in (meaning I don't actively feel that I will have to interact with a meth head). And, .45acp is plenty of stopping power.


"Phydeaux, bad biscuit!"

September 25, 2007, 01:17 AM
thanks again, everyone...i guess it all depends on practical application...and my employer is independently wealthy, so i probably have the luxury of renting and trying out as many as i need to...i just wanted to narrow it down to the few most likely contenders first. I think the idea of getting good and proficient on one gun makes the most sense. in the worst case scenario, it should be sencond nature and that's where i'm sure all the training comes in.

September 25, 2007, 03:38 AM
gonepostal42 said: what are your thoughts on the good old Ditry Harry .44 magnum? sidebar--to a novice like me, it would seem there isn't much difference between a .44 and a there?

Go shoot it for yourself and find out . . . Come back and tell us the difference.

gonepostal42 said: After all, we don't want to kill my protectee's ex--we still want him to pay child support

No, you really don't. But not for that reason. So . . . if he didn't have to pay child support, you can kill him and not face any repercussions then?

Your job, if you're going to go into the protection business, ought to be something you shouldn't need the gun to do. You ought think of that job as something you should be able to do without a gun at all.

If you're using the gun, you did something really wrong. You were not effective in something you did. You didn't plan a route well. Or you screwed up on awareness. Or you didn't keep good track of known threats.

Hell, even if you screwed all that up, your job is still not to get into firefights. The job of executive protection is to protect the client. That might mean you get shot in the arse as you stuff his wealthy butt in the car to drive off. If you are shooting back, your mind's not on the client.

I'm not sure what kind of job you envision executive protection is, but its not about guns. And its not about protecting some scared housewife and mommy from her ex, either. The people who can afford to hire personal protection are wealthy. They aren't going to care about child support.

Either a company will hire someone to plan out an executive's day safely, and safely usually means away from the crowds of media and protestors that make his job hell to do. Or its about protecting people who are magnets for public violence of some type. The client who hires someone to protect them from their ex is so rare you'll probably never see it.

Lots of folks may want that. But only the truly wealthy can afford it. Unless you're willing to work for less than minimum wage.

Executive protection is hard, boring work. And your client will think of you as his gofer, his secretary. "Go get my dry cleaning . . . all you do is stand there anyway." "Go pick us up some lunch . . . Go call my famliy and tell them we'll be late."

And most of 'em won't want to ever see the gun. If he, or his customers/coworkers/superiors ever see your gun, you'll be having an unpleasant talk. Yeah, that's why you both think you're there, but seeing it brings the reason way to close to the surface, and that's an uncomfortable thought for those who hired you.

Go get yourself a gun and have fun with it. Any gun. If you're serious about this, there's no way you can make the decision on what's right for "bodyguard' work if you've never worked it before. Get the training first, apprentice somewhere, and use what they give you. It'll be all you need.

September 25, 2007, 12:16 PM
BullfrogKen's Post above is worth reading again for anyone inquiring about a first gun - period.

Body Guards is what I call Personal Protection folks, as this is what they called themselves and we did to back in the day.

For newer folks, read over this thread again, and DO NOT read about specific guns, makes, models, calibers, loads and round count.
Fact is, one never has a big enough gun or two many rounds.

Instead pay close attention to the Software, Mindset, and how folks avoid trouble, and evade trouble.

Folks don't want to see, or hear about "guns". Whether they are Personal Protection or not.

I have met some THR members, and one would not know we knew anything about guns, if we carried, what we carried, or anything else.
Men, and women, and out and about doing what we were doing, "Concealed means Concealed".

Not even family, including kids, ever even suspected.

September 25, 2007, 02:26 PM

What was the training like getting ready for the job?

September 25, 2007, 04:00 PM
But again, there's that "what if" factor...which is why my employer wants me armed.

The legal questions around being an armed bodyguard intrigue. What kind of insurance do you need?

I assumed that the liability insurance was what made having a body guard so expensive. I have always thought that finding someone willing to carry a gun was pretty cheap - but finding someone that the insurance company is willing to insure would be expensive.

Aren't you also in a weird position with regard to self defense laws?

At least in NC, it's pretty clear that you can't use weapon unless there's pretty clear evidence of motive, means and opportunity to kill or seriously injure someone. So your client's breaking his retraining order and screaming at her, and any number of other terrifying activities are would not be grounds for shooting him. Does she understand all that?

At least in the CCW course here in NC, they make it very clear that showing the pistol to intimidate or invoke fear in someone is a very bad idea.

Any chance that if you do have to shoot your client's ex, his family (or the prosecutor) are going to claim that she hired you to kill him? Or that you're in love with her, and the shooting was a love triangle gone bad.

Are you former LEO? Military training?


September 25, 2007, 05:45 PM

What makes personal protection so expensive is finding people who are willing to put themselves between their principal and a bullet.

September 26, 2007, 12:44 AM
this is something i'm doing for a friend who has a welathy relative--the real threat is minimal, and please forgive my dry sense of humor (the quip about child support). I don't mean to imply that i wouldn't be taking this seriously. She would almost certainly be ok without me, but her benefactor has more money than god and lives 3,000 miles away and just kind of wants me to be around in case of emergencies because he can't. It's pretty far from the typical image of a bodyguard as far as an executive or celebrity as described in previous posts. My previous training is that I was a bouncer at a strip club, so I'm used to dealing with people who are intoxicated out of their minds and have no concept of logic or propriety--getting everyone out of a place like that after 2:00am is like trying to herd kittens ;) Maybe more importantly, I'm looking out for a friend, which is why i want to minimize the risk of anything going wrong with a piece should the need to use it ever arise. The realistic chances of that are one in a billion, but it's still there...if her ex should ever go truly off the deep end, there's a pending domestic battery case in the works, he has a few drug charges and DUIs on his record, and she's squeaky clean and used to work for the local Corrections department...logic would assume that any judge would look upon the use of force against such an individual as absolutely necessary...and I'm in Arizona--the laws here lean toward the person doing the defending, and decidedly against the assailant, and that covers a concerned individual stepping in on behalf of an innocent person, especially with a CCW and some advanced training certificates. The last thing i ever want to do is have to use force, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

September 26, 2007, 01:10 AM
Good luck getting the license on your own that you'll need to do that kind of work in AZ.

If you plan on working without it . . . then I guess you must really like that friend of yours . . .

September 26, 2007, 03:07 PM
My previous training is that I was a bouncer at a strip club,..

So you want to place yourself in a situation - domestic violence - that makes even the most experienced police officer nervous, and your training is that you were a bouncer at a strip club?

I don't know if its still the case, but a long time ago a LEO friend told me that the most dangerous situation for police officers was a "domestic dispute". He told me a bar fight was a piece of cake compared to stepping between a husband and wife.

I am not in any way disparaging your talents and capabilities.

I would strongly suggest that you talk with a lawyer and get a very clear idea of your risks. If her benefactor has "more money than G-d", he won't mind paying for you to talk to a lawyer.

I would also ask yourself - if he has more money than G-d - why isn't he hiring some corporate security outfit? I would think that would offer him more (legal) protection than paying you.


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