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  1. The higher the bore axis, the more muzzle rise your will see on firing and the slower your accurate subsequent shots will be. A bore axis that sits lower in your hand will help with both muzzle rise and perceived recoil, increasing your speed with good hits on target.

  1. The angle, size, and hump or curve on the rear of the grip should fit your hand like a glove and will determine if the gun will shoot where you point it. Some guns come with several interchangeable back straps that will assist you in getting the gun to fit you properly.

  1. Your trigger finger should fall naturally on the trigger in the correct place without having to make any adjustments in your grip on the gun, and you should be able to operate it (press it) without any contortions. DA/SA, or double action only triggers may be heavier and/or longer in pull than others. Try several to see what type of action you prefer.

  1. Manual safeties may be a factor if they are poorly placed, difficult to operate, or counter intuitive in operation.

  1. The size and weight of the gun won’t be as much of a factor if you’re buying it strictly for home defense, as you won’t have to try to figure out how to carry it.

  1. The size, weight, shape, and design will determine its comfort, if you will be carrying it, and the speed you will be able to use it.

You should already have an idea of what the primary role of the gun will be (concealed carry, home defense, or both), and if it will be carried, what method will be employed (inside the waistband, outside the waistband, or any one of a dozen other options that may suit you). Most people buy the gun first, and then try to figure out how to carry it. Figuring that out first would probably make more sense.


Here is an excellent and easy method of determining as to whether a particular gun fits your hand properly for rapid deployment, and will afford you the best chance of being effective with it...

  1. 1)Pick up the unloaded handgun (triple checked and cleared) with one hand, while pointing it downwards 45 degrees (low ready).

  1. 2)Focus your mind and eyes on an object about the size of a 9” paper plate and chest high. It should be about 6 to 8 feet in front of you.

  1. 3)Close both eyes.

  1. 4)Raise the handgun quickly towards your chosen focal point as if you were going to shoot, and hold it.

5) Open both eyes (if you use a gun in self defense, you will do so with both eyes open).

The gun should be pointed exactly at your chosen target, and repeat. If the gun is not consistently on target, you may want to try a different gun, or adjust your stance. If it seems to point naturally, repeat with the other hand (as you advance use gloves if you have them).

To correct your stance/position to your natural point of aim:
1. Take up your natural relaxed shooting stance
2. Acquire your sight picture (sights on target)
3. Close your eyes
4. Take a couple of deep breaths to relax.
5. Open your eyes and see where your sight picture has moved to.

This is your natural point of aim and most likely you are now off target. So what to do now? You need to reposition your entire body so that you maintain your point of aim and get on target. In the standing position an adjustment of your rear (strong side) foot position will allow you to do this. Moving it back will raise your sights, forward will drop them. Left or right movement of your rear foot will change your position on the target sideways. A tip: if you have some chalk, you can mark your the position of your feet in your shooting spot so if you move from the firing line, you can return and instantly know where your correct position is until you learn it and are able to simply step into it.

If you apply some mental discipline to incorporate this technique as part of your shooting set up you will improve your shooting abilities over time.

If the grip on the gun you like is a bit short (you can’t comfortably get a three finger grip), you may want to look into a magazine, or pinky extension base plate which will increase the length of the grip and improve its feel.

There are hundreds of different designs, shapes, and grip angles for different hand shapes and sizes. The better a handgun fits you naturally, the less effort and practice will be needed to become proficient in a time of need. If the gun performs the same when firing live ammunition, it will be usable in low light conditions, if there’s blood in your eyes, or if you are in the fight or flight response.

The gun you choose must fit your hand and be easy for you to operate. It must go bang every time, and it must be easy for you to carry, if you choose to (and you should), and be easy to maintain.

Price should not be the primary deciding factor. There are inexpensive guns that will serve admirably, just as there are expensive guns that will get the job done without complaint. A gun you may have to bet your life on should be of good quality, but should not require a second mortgage to purchase. Choose well... For self-defense or your family’s safety, you may only have one chance. If the handgun is for concealed carry, there will be more wear and maintenance (lint, dust, rust, sweat, dirt, and scratches) than a stored gun, which is why I prefer guns with stainless steel, or Tenifer treated slides if they’re available on that model.

I always carry a good gun that I’m comfortable with and that works for me, and so should you.


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When you go into a gun shop to look for a handgun you’ll usually get to handle a few of  them. One of the first questions you will probably be asked is, “How does this gun feel in your hand?” or “Does this gun feel good to you?” When buying a handgun for self-defense, there should only one question you should be asking yourself. Does this gun work for me?