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Qualities in a defensive vs. offensive handgun?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by krept, Jan 2, 2003.

  1. krept

    krept Well-Known Member

    How would the qualities of a handgun for defense differ from those of an offense handgun? Certainly for either purpose, one would want the handgun to be as reliable as possible as criteria number one.

    Some might think that an offensive handgun should hold a maximum amount of rounds, but what if you are barricaded in a defensive position wouldn't you want as many as possible here too?

    For sake of argument and simplicity, let's say that offense does not include use of suppressors.

    I can see a solid distinction between an offensive and a defensive longarm (say 12ga vs. .308), but in handguns, aren't the differences pretty much moot?
  2. MikeJ

    MikeJ Well-Known Member

    Personally, I do see a difference. To me a defensive handgun has to be ready without the manipulation of any safeties, levers etc. That is why I use DA revolvers and DAO pistols. An offensive handgun doesn't require the same criteria. To me the 1911 makes an ideal offensive handgun, flick off the safety and you have a fast shooting weapon. I'm sure others may disagree but its only an opinion ;) , Mike
  3. Keith

    Keith Well-Known Member

    I would say qualities like weight, size and profile would be the qualities that make the difference.

    If I wanted an "offensive" handgun, I'd want a full sized gun with high profile target sights, preferably in 45 acp. Actually though, I really wouldn't want an offensive handgun because if I knew I was going to a gunfight, I'd have a rifle.

    For a defensive gun, I want a compact with a flat profile and snag-free sights, etc. And I want that in the largest caliber I can carry - which depends on my clothing and the time of year.

  4. Derek Zeanah

    Derek Zeanah System Administrator Staff Member

    If I wanted something "offensive" I'd pick a rifle.

    All handguns that are small enough to conceal/wear daily are underpowered. They're hopefully "good enough," but no 9mm/.40/.45/.357 is going to compare to a 30-06, or even a .223 Remington in terms of its ability to stop an attacker.

    The only reason to show up at a gunfight with a pistol is because you didn't have time to get something better. Defense on short notice.
  5. Neal Bloom

    Neal Bloom Well-Known Member

    I agree with Derek, for offense I want a rifle, one that was made to go on the offensive.
  6. Okiecruffler

    Okiecruffler Well-Known Member

    The only offensive handgun I can think of would be a suppressed .22 for covert, up close, behind the ear shooting. Any other offensive action and I think you'd be better served with something that fills both your hands.

    For defense, I want something that is 100% reliable, accurate enough for close up work, and a caliber large enough to take the fight out of an attacker.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2003
  7. sanchezero

    sanchezero Well-Known Member

    I dunno, SWAT teams usually have a dedicated pistoleer. He gets to open doors and stuff where you're cramped and need a free hand :eek:

    I think that an 'offensive' gun is alot like most peoples bedside gun. Hi capacity, full size, maybe a light. Other than that I'd say it depended on the operator's preferences: SA, DAO, etc.
  8. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Member In Memoriam

    MikeJ's on the right track.

    Why would you need an offensive handgun? Simple Home Defense is where one is needed. Clearing a house with a rifle isn't such a hot idea. For that, a handgun or shotgun is perhaps a better choice.

    SD? DAO, and that's all for me. If in a situation where I need one, I don't want the old brain trying to go through a checklist to get the thing to fire. I just want to point and shoot.
  9. okeydoke

    okeydoke member

    A suppressor is a big help defensively,

    too. It obviates both your reason for flinching and also muzzleflash at night. If it's to be offensive work, concealment is either not an issue, or only an issue up to the point where the flag goes up. At that point, you screw on the suppressor, and go to work.

    While it's very rare, it is possible to match the 223 performance with a handgun (in 460 Rowland) or at least, the 100 yd performance of the 223 in a carbine (ie, 60 grs at 2400 fps) in a 5" barreled 1911, and 2550fps or more in a 6" 1911. A 6" 1911 is no longer than is a 4" M29 .44,(ie, 9.5") and a few guys consider the M29 to be concealable, you know. :) Of course, such a load requires a suppressor that is about 7" long, even tho that suppressor is sleeved and underchambered. If it were to be the typical cylindrical suppressor, it would need to be at least as long as the gun is. The 100 yd performance of the 60 gr Nosler Partition softpoint is still very shocking and destructive. It far outperforms the typical .45 or 357 Mag jhp, even when the handguns are used at 20 ft and less.

    With a powerful pocket auto AND a sound suppressed pocket .22, you have options available that are not present with just the one gun. For instance, the M21 Beretta is but 5" long. It comes with a 2.5" long barrel. If you bore that out, and fit 3" of Brownell's barrel liner, it can then be outfitted with 3" of sleeved, underchambered sound suppressor, .5" of which telescopes around the .5" of exposed, threaded barrel liner. So the end result is 8" long, same as a Browning HP 9mm, but the total wt is the same 14 ozs as the alloy framed .38 Chief snubby. :) Couple that with the 16 ozs of the PM Kahr 9mm (6" long) and you still have a lighter gun than the 35 oz Browning. The M21 is still concealable, and can be swiftly drawn. If you need power, the stealthiness of the sound suppressor is probably no longer of much value, you realize.
  10. For defense: I want something that can be drawn fast from the concealed holster. Snubbie revolvers are extremly fast. The snubbies are especially useful when the BG is at bad breath distance.

    Offensive: I would probably choose a full size .357 magnum revolver for the extra reach, though the wondernines have the magazine capacity for laying a bit of suppressive fire.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2003
  11. PATH

    PATH Well-Known Member

    I believe that a good handgun is capable of both. Pick one that you shoot well and go from there.
  12. sm

    sm member

    I understand the logic of semi for offense (like a full size 1911) and a wheel for defense ( draw shoot) same said for Blackhawk's choice (P-11, point shoot).

    Its gets down to the individual and what they can shoot best under a situation. I use my P-11 a lot -especially here lately. I also like and use my full size 1911 for defense, done same with Kframes. I guess I really don't distinguish FOR ME. I'm more of a shoot one gun and know it well person. I feel comfortable with this-for me. Heck I use the 1911 primary and p-11 as aBUG sometimes.
  13. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Well-Known Member

    To me they're the exact same set of qualities.


    Uh... maybe that should be quality.

    Everything else to me is just window dressing.
  14. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

    On what planet?

    No... wait... lemme guess. With zinc bullets?

    I'm OVERCOME with a FEELING of deja vu...
  15. Preacherman

    Preacherman Well-Known Member

    Tamara - :D :D :D

    Would this do for a "troll" smilie? [​IMG]
  16. Plan-B

    Plan-B Well-Known Member

    I can't believe this discussion has gone on for so long without someone saying "I find Glocks offensive." :D
  17. dacinokc

    dacinokc Well-Known Member

    It has been mentioned before in the thread, and I guess my old military training takes over here a bit. Rifles, even in handgun caliber, like the MP-5 are offensive weapons, while handguns are most often regulated to the realm of defense.
    That said, we used to pratice 500 rounds of 45 through our handguns a day. Originally the 1911, then the MK23, although we retained and used the 1911 as our standard issue side arm. I felt every bit as comfortable in most CQB situations with the handgun.
    The Assault rifle just had very clear advantages such as capacity and barrel lenght for accuracy, plus the little auto cycle feature.
    The question is lost in the civilian world. I would not like to try to justify offensive action in a court. Defensive action is more understandable and acceptable in civil litigation.
  18. okeydoke

    okeydoke member

    or aluminum, tin, pewter, or copper.

    The mandate is to get the weight down under 80 grs, the velocity over 2100 fps. 60 grs at 2400 fps can be attained, from a 5" barrel. After all, the THV Arcane .45 was 60 grs at 2200 fps, and that was in regular .45 ACP ammo. They also got 45 grs to 2400 fps in a 9x19mm. The .460 offers a lot more poop than the .45 ACP can offer, or would you care to argue that point? .45 ACP stops at 230grs and 950 fps. The 460 gets 230 grs to 1350 fps.

    Now maybe you can't see how cutting the bullet weight by nearly 3/4's (to include a huge hollowbase and a 1/10" longer case and 70% more chamber pressure) and using a compressed Duplex powder charge will let you get about an 80% increase in velocity, but I can assure you that it's so.

    In the much smaller case of the .38 Super, Jeff Cooper got 90 grs to 2000 fps, in a 6" barrel, by the simple expedient of using cutdown 223 brass. With its thicker walls, the 223 cases offered less powder space. Jeff did this almost 30 years ago, without fully supported barrels or today's superior powders. Over 8 years ago, Joe Zambone got a 52 gr MagSafe to 2050 fps in 3.5" barreled 9mms, and 64 gr Mag Safes to 2200 fps in 4" 357 Sigs, over 5 years ago. So, you are way behind the times if you are not aware of what can be done with the far larger case of the .460.
  19. Brian Williams

    Brian Williams Moderator Emeritus

    Defense - Revolver S&W mod 13
    Offence - Auto glock19 want 1911
  20. Defense: Colt Detective Special

    Offense: Colt Python

    Ideal offense weapon: .30 caliber Winchester M70 w/ Bushnell scope and leather military sling.

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