So you’re buying your first firearm?

As instructors of a Florida concealed carry course, we are often asked by the students what we recommend them to purchase. Our answer is invariably, we don’t know. This is because decisions on which pistol to buy are largely personal. People differ greatly on what brand, what model, what caliber, what need and what grip they want in a pistol. Our recommendation for a starting point is to attend a gun show where you can view many different kinds of pistols and in many cases feel the grips. We also recommend visiting a local shooting range that offers pistols for rent. By renting pistols, one can not only feel if the grip and weight is right but also feel the recoil and the trigger to make this important decision. For purposes of narrowing down your choice, and giving you an idea of what to look for, we offer the following:

Purpose

Firearms are made for different purposes. The first question to ask in determining what to purchase is what do I need the firearm for? How will I use it? Is the firearm going to be used to carry on your person for self-defense? Will it be used solely for training at the range? Will it be used primarily for home defense? Answering these will help narrow the scope of the pistols to consider, or perhaps lead you to a rifle or shotgun. Examples:

Colt 1911
Concealed CarryRange UseHome Defense
Sig Sauer P365Sig Sauer P3201911 (Colt, Ruger, Sig, etc.)
Ruger LCP IISig Sauer P226Shotgun: Mossberg Shockwave
Glock 43Glock 17AR-15

Semi-Automatic Pistol or Revolver

The modern consensus favors the semi-automatic pistol for defense and range use. However, there are still many people who do not trust semi-automatics for defensive purposes and use only revolvers. Their basis is that because of the additional moving parts in semi-automatics, they can jam. The jam can be caused by cheap ammo or because of the gun itself, whether because it is dirty, it has not been properly lubed or it simply has a poor design. Among the semi-automatic proponents, the kinks causing the majority of jams have been worked out in more recent introductions to the market, however, there is still cheap ammunition and inadequate cleaning and lubing which can only be addressed by the user. Revolvers have less moving parts and less likely to cause misfires, although hang fires and squib loads, which often pertain to a cartridge, not a gun malfunction, may still be a concern for users of revolvers.

The pros of the semi-automatic is the number of rounds available between each reloading of the gun comparable to revolvers, which are limited to max of 6 rounds in most cases. Some semi-automatics can accept extended magazines of 20+ rounds. The current concealed carry sized semi-autos with the highest round count can hold 12 rounds in a standard magazine.

The semi-automatic design may also better control the recoil, than in revolvers and can be slimmer and therefore more concealable than revolvers in general. Reloading a semi-automatic can be very quick with the carrying of extra loaded magazines, although revolvers have evolved to increase the loading speed as well. The advantage of the revolver as a defensive weapon, again, is primarily that it is not subject to jamming like the semi-automatic. When your life depends on the firearm, that advantage is enough for some people to leave the semi-automatic at home and carry only revolvers. Examples:

Chiappa 60DS Charging Rhino
RevolversSemi-Automatics
Smith & Wesson .38 SpecialHechler & Koch P30SK
Colt .45Glock 23
Chiappa RhinoWalther PPQ

Caliber

As with purpose, there are several options of calibers for pistols. Perhaps the most common caliber is the 9mm (also known as 9mm Luger, 9mm Parabellum or 9x19mm). The 9mm round is both economical for use at the range, where you may shoot 100-200+ rounds in any visit and provides sufficient firepower by most accounts for defensive purposes. But there are others that you may consider and some you should not.

Most pistol rounds may not be sufficient to stop a threatening person with just one round. You may need to hit an assailant several times. However, a round as small as the .22 is probably grossly inadequate for defensive purposes. These rounds are most often used for “plinking”, i.e. shooting at the range. They’re very inexpensive price makes it popular as a range round. The .22 round is capable of killing, but most likely it would do slowly by causing a great deal of internal bleeding. For defensive purposes, you want a round that will stop a threat as quickly as possible. The .380 round is smaller than a 9mm, but with modern ballistics, some consider it sufficient for defensive purposes. Smaller, defensive pistols often come in .380. Aside from 9mm, .22 and .380, you may also consider some calibers with larger rounds than the 9mm, such as .357Sig, .40S&W, .45 Auto (a/k/a .45 ACP) and 10mm. In revolvers, you have the .45 Auto, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, among others.

Keep in mind that although there are some pistols that come in small frames, but with large calibers, you will notice a bigger recoil because of the lighter weight of the smaller pistols. I.e., a small semi-automatic such as the Springfield Hellcat 9mm will have greater recoil than the larger, heavier, Sig P226 chambered in 9mm. Examples:

Sig Sauer P229 Elite
CaliberPistol
.380Ruger LCP II, Sig Sauer P238, Walther PK380
9mmS&W Shield, Sig Sauer P365XL, Kimber Micro9
.40S&WSig Sauer P229
10mmSpringfield Armory XDM
.45 AutoSpringfield Armory XD-S Mod.2
Some pistols, such as the Sig Sauer P229 and the Springfield Armory XD-S come in various calibers.

ACTION TYPE

When speaking of action type in considering a revolver for defensive purposes, the answer is simply: double action. The single action revolver is outdated, provides a slow method of reloading and requires two hands to adequately rapid fire if you are caught in a gun fight. Therefore, for defensive purposes, if you are leaning towards revolvers, stick to double action only (DA or DAO).

The issue gets much trickier with semi-automatic pistols, where modern semi-automatics can come in single action only (SAO), double action only (DAO), traditional double action or double action/ single action (DA/SA), or a “hybrid” of these, the striker-fired pistol. The choice here is strictly personal but may involve your tolerance for safety features. For instance, many firearms enthusiasts will only carry a pistol with double action, either DAO or DA/SA, if the pistol has no safety lever that the user must disengage to fire it. The added pull weight of the double action reduces the risk of a misfire in the absence of the safety lever. Many who carry, however, are adamant that their pistol not have a safety lever to reduce the draw time and reduce the risk of fumbling with a safety should a gun fight occur. For this reason, they will carry striker-fire, double actions or even SAO’s without a safety lever. Their mantra is that a well-disciplined trigger finger, one that is placed on the trigger ONLY when the user is ready to pull it, is safety enough, along with the use of a good holster that MUST cover the trigger when the firearm is holstered.

Glock 19
Action TypeFirearm
SAOSig Sauer P938, Colt 1911
DA/SASig Sauer P229, Springfield Armory XD-E
Striker FiredGlock (any), Sig Sauer P320

Trigger

Triggers are distinguishable by the pull-weight (i.e. how many pounds per square inch (PSI)) necessary to fire the round, by the travel to reset the trigger (how far does the trigger have to move after pulling it before it resets the action and is ready to be fired for follow-up shots), how smooth the pull of the trigger is, and its shape (some prefer traditional curved triggers, while others may swear that a flat trigger helps their accuracy). Getting a feel for the trigger will require actually handling various firearms to get a sense of what you prefer, such as being able to distinguish fine wine from dressed-up grape juice. Triggers on revolvers tend to have a greater pull-weight than those on semi-automatics. The same is true for double action semi-automatics versus SAOs or striker-fired actions.

Sig Sauer P365 XL

Magazines

Here the issue is based on round count. If you are in a gun fight, you will want to carry as many rounds in each magazine as possible to reduce the need to reload. Magazines can come in both “single-stack” and “double-stack” with semi-automatics. As the name implies, double stack magazines tend to have greater round capacity than single stack, but also tend to be about twice as wide. When determining comfort and concealability in a pistol you intend to carry, the choice may be single stack. Many people may carry double stack pistols just fine, but my humble, personal opinion, single stack works best for me. This offers the best chance of getting a pistol that is no more than 1 to 1.1” wide. Anything wider than that may lend too much weight to conceal carry a pistol for all but a short time. Keep in mind that I’m not a tall person and this is just my opinion for myself.

A new trend in magazines is a hybrid single/ double stack introduced by Sig Sauer in their P365 series (original, XL and SAS). These pistols carry many rounds for their size and manage to squeeze it into a width of 1.1”. As a result, the original P365 was the best-selling firearm of 2018.

Glock 17 with a drum mag

Conclusion

There are many other options available, such as sights, optics, presence of rails for adding flashlights or laser pointers, but these are outside the scope of this article and most of these accessories are aftermarket. You will find that with all the research you conduct, you may end up like most of us who find that the first gun didn’t quite fit what we had in mind and end up with multiple firearms. To that, we say welcome to the world of firearm owners. Between your multiple firearms and your drawer full of holsters (don’t get us started on these – maybe a later article), you will have truly arrived. Happy hunting for that perfect pistol!

Wake Up: The USA is not Venezuela, … Yet?

Today, a new flare up in rebellion in Venezuela occurred. The Maduro regime, a Socialist government with close ties to Cuba and now Russia, is seriously and intentionally failing its people. There is no food and no medicine, and what food has been sent by peaceful means from foreign charitable organizations has been turned away, blocked from entering the country or burned by the Maduro government. In one generation, that regime has taken a country that was rich in oil and stood as one of the wealthiest countries in the Western Hemisphere (behind only the US and perhaps Canada), and reduced it to sub-Third World status. It is a government effort against its own people of monumental proportions and inhumanity, reminiscent, though not quite the magnitude, of Mao Tse-Tung’s Cultural Revolution in Red China.

Opponents to Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro confront loyalist Bolivarian National Guard troops firing tear gas at them, outside La Carlota military airbase in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
(AP Photo/ Fernando Llano)

Where did it start? There are arguably several sources, but undoubtedly, the inability of the people of Venezuela to wage a successful rebellion so far is principally the disarming of the general public by the Chavez/Maduro regime about ten years ago. There may have been some opponents of the disarming back then, and there may have been some legal provision in Venezuela’s constitution or laws permitting or even guaranteeing the citizen’s right to bear arms. But, when a Socialist government installs itself, as Maduro’s did during the tenure of his mentor and predecessor, Hugo Chavez, the control of the narrative and the systematic violation of the laws is fully in the government control. Rights, freedoms and guarantees are swept away by Socialist regimes with hardly the bat of an eye, when disarmed dissidents risk speaking out.

This past weekend at the Florida Gun Show at the Miami-Dade County Fairgrounds, one of the vendors had a stack of leaflets titled, “Florida Gun Owners Beware”. It states that an organization called “Ban Assault Weapons Now” (“BAWN”) is pushing for an amendment to the Florida Constitution to bar, “any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once.” Translated this means every single semiautomatic rifle, since this 10+ capacity is simply a matter of inserting the right-sized magazine. A government that passes this law is also capable of interpreting this to mean most shotguns, since shotguns, other than perhaps hinged shotguns can be modified to hold 10+ shots or use 10+ mini-shot, such as those produced by Aguila.

The amendment purportedly would require all current owners to register their rifles or shotguns with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, failing which these firearms would be deemed illegal. Recently, in California, a man registering his various firearms lawfully made from 80% lower receivers in compliance with a recently enacted law in that state requiring such registration, was visited by a half dozen members of California law enforcement, wearing SWAT apparel, and demanding a surrender of such weapons.

No doubt this organization, BAWN, has been emboldened to seek passage of this amendment following new gun control laws passed impulsively in Florida following the Las Vegas shooting at the Mandalay Hotel, where a rifle outfitted with a bump fire stock was found and following the school shooting in Parkland Florida. One of Florida’s new gun control laws, Sec. 790.222, Fla. Stat. (2018), bans bump fire stocks, as well as any device that can mimic or allow a person to shoot faster than a person naturally can unassisted by such device. The ambiguity in the language of this law places the onus on the Florida courts to decide what such other devices are covered by this statute. The included devices appear to include such devices as binary triggers, and triggers with low pull weights made for 3-gun recreational shooting competitions. Some clever chap even figured out how to rapid fire his AR-15 using a belt loop on his jeans. This leaves law abiding citizens who are firearm enthusiasts scratching their heads on whether their firearms, and perhaps their belt loops, are now illegal.

The other recent Florida gun law, Sec. 790.065(13) (2018), took effect in October, 2018 and increased the minimum age to purchase a rifle or shotgun from 18 to 21. Florida law had already long required a minimum age of 21 years old for handguns. This is odd because the gun control crowd presently pretends not to be worried about handguns in the hands of law-abiding citizens. The troublesome part, though, is that we have laws that suggest 18-year olds are mature enough to vote for President, i.e. a person who has access to engaging our country’s nuclear arsenal with the push of a button but those same adult teenagers are not mature enough to wield even a light .22 caliber pistol or rifle. Meanwhile, another item on the gun control crowd agenda is to lower the voting age from 18 to 16. And like the effect of the passage of these recent Florida laws on BAWN and its proposal to ban all semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, the BAWN proposal will eventually lead to a ban on handguns as well, once they dispense with the rifles and shotguns.

In case you have not been paying attention to national or state news, we’re in a crisis. The crisis is for protection of our rights. These are not just the right to bear arms, but freedom of speech, through political correctness, freedom of religion as the same crowd constantly pushes to marginalize, or even criminalize Christianity and Judaism, and freedom of the press, where Conservative news outlets are systematically ostracized as prejudiced while the liberal Mainstream Media is touted as objective truth. These freedoms, to bear arms, of free speech, religion and press, derive from the unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, referenced in the US Constitution. The rights are unalienable in that no person, or group of persons, such as a government may infringe, impede or violate such rights against anyone. As someone once said, government is not meant to give the people their rights, but to protect them.

Even so, the governments in Venezuela, in Cuba, in the former Soviet Union, Red China and other Socialist countries found a way to make exercise of these unalienable rights a crime punishable by incarceration, hard labor and often death. We believe these rights to be sacred in the United States, but for how long? The Left has succeeded in removing any prayer or mention of our Creator from our schools, removed representations of Judaic laws known as The Ten Commandments from various courthouses, removed nativity scenes during Christmas season and even the term Christians to denote believers in Jesus Christ, favoring instead the more pagan term, “Easter worshipers.” If what is most sacred, that is our Creator, has been wiped from the daily narrative and pushed to the back burner of our culture, what can we expect of the Left with respect to those unalienable rights derived from Him. Today, in the USA, they simply find offense at anyone who exercises these rights; tomorrow, they’ll criminalize such exercise.

We the People simply cannot sit back and expect a group of persons to faithfully determine when and more importantly, if, our unalienable rights will be observed and respected.  Just to be clear, while we at SFG&A Club love our firearms, this article is NOT a call to arms, but a call to civil, but aggressive and relentless call to action, while we still have a chance and the power to make a difference without the chaos and bloodshed historically associated with Socialist revolutions and the efforts to oppose them. We the People must be willing to assert our authority over those who are privileged to serve us in governmental roles, especially when such civil servants have forgotten their place, lest one day, in the not too distant future, the grand USA falls to the depths of Venezuela’s decline or worse and we find ourselves being the ones in those news pictures throwing rocks at military tanks because we failed to impede the erosion of our unalienable rights. There is still time, but we must act.

Time to Enter the Fray

Our club celebrated its first anniversary on February 13th, this year. We formed to provide a forum for self-defense firearm training, as well as recreational firearm use and archery.  In making that the mission of this club, we have strived to remain out of the political discussions concerning firearms and the 2nd Amendment protections. There are better forums for those discussions.

However, lately we are seeing changes both positive and negative that may impact what we do as a club and what we do as private citizens to protect ourselves and our families. We find that as time passes, we cannot continue to avoid the national discussion over firearms that threatens to place us all in mortal danger and eliminate a sport we love. We are not hunters. We are not violent. But as human beings, we are political beings and can not long pretend that certain policy decisions being made do not affect us.

Therefore, we intend henceforth to periodically put in our contribution to the discussion and join those who would protect the unalienable right acknowledge in the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution in opposing any further infringement on such right. It is not a privilege to speak up. It is a moral duty.

Recently, we have seen the lower house of Congress, the People’s House, threatening to impose further restrictions on law-abiding citizens to arm themselves as they see fit; as they find adequate for their personal defense in the particular circumstances in which they live. We have seen a knee-jerk reaction by the Florida legislature and and the federal government to a school shooting in South Florida leading to the ban of an after-market accessory to a firearm, i.e. bumpfire stocks, even though such accessory was not utilized in the said school shooting, nor even in the shooter’s possession. Policy-making was utilized in the name of politics to appease the masses. Bumpfire stocks are not everybody’s cup of tea. In our own club, we are not aware of anyone that owns one or owned one prior to the ban. However, the Florida legislature, in its haste to produce some legislative response to the school shooting, drafted a new law intended to ban bumpfire stocks, but so vague that it appears to have gone far beyond such accessory.

On a positive note, the ban in California on high-capacity magazines has been lifted, or rather found unconstitutional by no less than a Bear Republic judge. It seems some common sense and constitutional integrity seemed in to through a crack in the Left wing firmament of California politics to bring about this change. The ban itself did nothing to protect the people of California. The poor victims of the San Bernardino shooting, if still alive today, and their families could care less whether the shooter in that incident had 30 rounds in a magazine or only 5. The fact is that the shooter had sufficient to snuff out the lives of several innocent people. The fact is that only one round per person is necessary in many cases. Even so, banning all magazines violates our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms and leaves the innocent at the mercy of the guilty; the sheep at the mercy of the wolves.

“Don’t expect to see a change unless you make one.”

These laws need to be publicly debated if we are to live in a sane culture; a culture in which common sense dictates what laws govern our everyday lives. It is therefore our intent to comment whenever we find that debate is necessary and good for all. We hope to encourage others to leave the laurels on which they sit behind and join the fray.