The firearm is arguably the most important tool in your Every Day Carry loadout. While the other pieces of gear help you sort out life’s every day inconveniences, a firearm is a life preserving piece of equipment. So when it comes to choosing one, it’s time to make an
Educated Defensive Carry
decision so you know that when your life is at steak, your chosen tool won’t fail you.
With how important firearm selection is, JustPews has produced a comprehensive Guide to Handguns for individuals that are new to firearms in general, or just new to handguns. Before we get to the guide itself though, we do want to get some myth busting out of the way. The four myths below are ones that get forced onto new gun owners as soon as they enter gun stores; know them & avoid shops that push them.
1. Stopping power.
Stopping Power refers to the ability of a bullet to completely stop an attacker in their tracks. It’s a term that started being used when people started to study ballistics and it’s one that’s stuck around for some time. This term has gone on to grow several different meanings by several different groups of people. Today though it’s used predominantly to push larger calibers onto new shooters.
An example: “You don’t want a 9mm, it doesn’t have any stopping power! Get yourself a .45ACP because shooting twice is silly!”
Stopping Power is usually determined by people in one of two ways. The first being the energy (in ft-lbs or Joules) the company lists on the box of ammunition, the second being Kinetic Energy or KE. Keeping in mind that Stopping Power is used to push larger calibers onto new gun owners, let’s do some fast math.
Joules from a 124gr 9mm traveling at 1,200 fps: 8294.38
Joules from a 185gr .45ACP traveling at 820 FPS: 5,778.29
These numbers were computed from Ballistics By The Inch, looking at 4″ barrel lengths.
Despite Kinetic Energy being used synonymously with Stopping Power the math makes 9mm the superior cartridge between the two, but is Stopping Power a real measurement being used to determine the effectiveness of a caliber?
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, it’s not. The FBI has the world’s most advanced ballistics labs in the world and per a press release from their testing center, all duty calibers perform identically. Which means there’s no reason to purchase a 9mm over a .45ACP or a .45ACP over a 9mm beyond personal preference.
This claim actually reinforces one made in the 1999 by Vincent J.M. Di Maio, a Forensic Pathologist and subject matter expert on gun shot wounds.
“…there is no appreciable difference in the effectiveness of the 9 mm and the .45 ACP cartridges.” You can find this claim in GUNSHOT WOUNDS: Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques Second Edition.
There isn’t any “Stopping Power” with an handgun caliber as they don’t produce the brute force or internal damage required to stop a threat with 1 bullet. At most you’re poking holes (identical between duty calibers) to create blood loss that will hopefully lead to incapacitation fast enough to save your life.
2. Smaller guns are great for beginners
Gun Shops of every size love to recommend smaller guns to newer gun owners, especially women. Evidently having a smaller figure means you can only shoot small guns.
If shooting a smaller firearm starting off doesn’t dissuade someone entirely from getting into firearms due to the increased snap, it will create issues for instructors later on. When a new shooter starts off on a smaller firearm they tend to catch the “Flinchies” as Chuck Pressburg calls them.
The flinchies cause you to throw shots repeatedly, making it impossible to shoot a grouping; the worse the flinching the bigger the training hurdle for becoming an accurate shooter. Do. Not. Start. Small. unless you absolutely have to.
Q: Can I purchase a gun that’s too large for my hands?
A: The short answer is yes. Fr more clarification please read “Handgun Frames Explained”.
3. Revolvers are easy to use!
We actually have an entire portion of the Guide to Handguns going over this one. Revolvers are easier to clean and that get’s drawn out of proportion. They have a high learning curve down the path towards proficiency and they’re very difficult for those with weaker hands to use.
Yes. Gun shops of every size love to recommend revolvers, especially snubnose revolvers to newer gun owners; more specifically women and the elderly.
4. Handguns aren’t drop safe
When we use the term “Drop Safe” it’s a general phrase meaning that the firearm cannot be made to discharge without the trigger being pulled. As an example, it means that if you accidentally drop your firearm on the ground it won’t go off at all.
While the belief that handguns aren’t drop safe is dying out, we still see it often enough to address it. Handguns from the 80’s back used to not be drop safe, at least most of them (this is why we don’t recommend carrying surplus firearms from the 80’s back). Since the 1980’s handguns have changed drastically due to consumer demands for improved safety features.
One of these safety features is called a Firing Pin Safety or FPS. Firing Pin Safeties block the firing pin from being able to move forward entirely unless the trigger is being pulled. Meaning you can take your firearm (that has a firing pin safety), fling it across a concrete driveway with a round chambered, and it won’t discharge unless the trigger gets pulled along the way.
Nowadays, aside from specialty firearms, all handguns come equipped with firing pin safeties among other possible safety measures to protect carriers. This even goes for striker fired handguns, such as Glocks, that people are the most skeptical of carrying chambered with.
In fact, it could be argued that striker fired handguns are safer mechanically speaking than hammer fired handguns.
The Guide to Handguns
Wondering what size handgun you should get? Maybe you're trying to decide between an all steel handgun, or one with a polymer frame. In this portion of the Guide to Handguns we go over the handling characteristics of each size, as well as what you an expect for recoil from the different frame materials.
What's DA/SA? What's DAO? Well, they're handgun actions. More specifically it describes the trigger the handgun will have. In this part of the Guide to Handguns we go over all the common handgun actions on the market, as well as the acronyms used for them.
If you ever want to start a comment war, just ask what the best handgun caliber is. There's a lot of misinformation and outdated information circulating about caliber choice. In this part of the Guide to Handguns we break down the most common calibers you'll find to help you find the one you need.
Wondering what size firearm you should get? Maybe you're trying to decide between an all steel handgun, or one with a polymer frame. In this portion of the Guide to Handguns we go over the handling characteristics of each size, as well as what you an expect for recoil from the different frame materials.