One of my favorite commentators on Youtube is Mr. Colion Noir. Most of his stuff rings true with me. I’m also extremely jealous of the weapons he gets to shoot. I was excited when he became a commentator for NRA news. The first video of his that I watched was this one. I remember thinking, “wow this guy has his shit together.” He has a litany of videos dispelling gun myths and hysteria in a way that is both objective and non partisan. He’s also apparently got a ton of hats. Seriously dude who are you a fan of? I count at least seven different baseball team hats. You can’t like both the Red Sox and the Yankees. Anyways, for me his latest video hit the closest to home:
I have one issue with the video in that I don’t really think people are pro-gun. I’m actually quite anti-gun. I mean, I wish they didn’t have to exist. I’m pro self defense. I’m pro liberty. I’m pro freedom. It just so happens that the gun is the tool that protects. The tool that defeats tyranny and ensures freedom. I don’t think that people are against those things; we just have different ideas on how to accomplish it.
It always disturbs me when people try to put me in a box because of my defense of the Second Amendment. I’ve said before that I’m fairly moderate and not religious. However, when I rebuff people’s arguments for gun control all of a sudden I’m a privileged, racist white male. I’m a religious right wing fanatic. Oh, you didn’t think that when when I was arguing on your side in support of gay marriage. Now I’ve come out against the gun control statists and I’m bad guy. I get it. The strawman argument.
I hate being placed in a political box. I don’t think either side has it entirely right. I think both sides happen to get a couple of things right and a lot of things wrong. I’m all for freedom. As one of my friends on the radio always says, “I don’t care if you think you’re a liberal. I don’t care if you think you’re a conservative. All I care about is that you think.” Think for yourselves people. Don’t let any ultra-anything tell you how you should believe. Get out. Do the research. Especially if someone is advocating for the loss of rights for a hundred million people.
I get asked all the time for handgun recommendations. Usually the questions come from people that have no idea what they want or need. They want a gun that can do it all. The home defense, carry, apocalypse, freedom handgun that shoots magical bad buy incapacitating non-lethal bullets. So I give some advice, some of which has been previously shared on this blog. Then the real question comes, “How much do those cost.” My usual retort of, “How much is your life worth?” seems rather off-putting so I’ve decided to come up with a list of budget handguns that I would recommend. These are three handguns that I have had experience with and would have no problems using in a defensive situation.
In order to make the cut the handgun has to be reliable, backed by and established company with a good warranty, be able to fill many roles and be under $400. These are handguns that I have owned but for one reason or another just haven’t liked. My budget allows me to be able to afford things that I also “like” to shoot rather than just a defensive tool. Again this is MY budget handgun list based upon pistols that I have owned and I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone looking for an inexpensive quality handgun.
3. Kel Tec P-11
Kel Tec is an interesting firearms company. They make reasonably priced firearms that aren’t like anything else on the market. Usually when a company is making budget firearms they are copying old designs. Not so with Kel Tec. I owned a P-11 when I was first starting to get into firearm ownership. At the time I was, like most early firearm owners, mostly concerned about budget. I was happy with the P-11 during the time I owned it. I cannot recall having any trouble with it. What I do remember is not being able to hit anything with it because I didn’t want to take the time to truly learn the double action trigger. I had just purchased my first 1911. At the time I was going to be a 1911 fanatic for life and the P-11 couldn’t go fast enough. See Kel Tec’s website for details. The P-11 ends up at #3 because of the lack of capacity. It would make a great carry gun, but in another defense scenario I think there are better options with higher round counts.
2. Sig Sauer SP2022
Normally there is no way that this handgun would make the budget list and I’m sure that if you have had any experience with Sigs you’re wondering how it’s on this list for less than $400. Well, Palmetto State Armory has it on sale right now for $390 and it comes in stainless with night sights and a holster. Normally a $700 handgun. Crazy. I know.
I actually owned the predecessor for the SP2022, the P2340. This was during my 40 S&W days. It was a great shooter. I preferred the SA/DA trigger to DA only. I remember trying to make this handgun malfunction and was unable to. I’m talking dirt in the magazines. Not cleaning it for 1000’s of rounds. Limp wristing. It just ate everything. Sig has a reputation for reliability, one that they’ve earned, and the P2340 lived up to that reputation. I’m confident that the SP2022 will as well. Get it in 9mm though. The SP2022 tips the scales a little high for carry use. It holds 15+1, so capacity is there. I’m just not a fan of the SA/DA trigger. I feel like if this were my only handgun it would be lacking.
1. Smith and Wesson SD9VE
I know some are going to scoff at the fact that I placed this ahead of the Sig. This was a handgun that I almost kept. The only reason I sold it was because I didn’t have a role for it. Don’t get me wrong, I love collecting firearms but usually handguns have to have a role, a purpose, to be in my collection. I just couldn’t imagine a scenario where I would chose it over another. My ownership of the SD9VE was recent. I purchased it form a friend that was upgrading to a higher quality handgun (a S&W M&P actually). MSRP for it is $389 and he sold it to me for $300. I wanted to hate it in all of it’s cheap stamped metal, polymer sights glory. I just couldn’t. It ate crappy Russian steel cased ammo like it needed it.
The only fault I could find with the SD9VE was the trigger. Mine broke at a whopping 11lbs. It was gritty like cheap airport toilet paper. It was by far the worst trigger I have ever shot. I was contemplating putting an Apex kit in it but I had to talk myself out of it. I couldn’t keep it. It would just sit in the safe and I would never use it. So I sold it to someone that needed it more than me. The SD9VE hits all of my major requirements for a defensive handgun. It’s striker fired, polymer, light weight, and high capacity. It will fill any role for a handgun, I would just recommend smoothing out that trigger.
Honorable Mention: Ruger P95/85
No longer in production but can be had for a great price. All of the things I don’t like about a defensive handgun. SA/DA, external safety, crappy trigger, tiny mag release, too big in my hands, etc… Not to mention it’s ugly as sin, but it always worked. You could do much worse for a handgun.
Did I swing and miss on any of these? Let me know! Leave a comment or send me an email. I would love to hear of your budget handguns.
I finally had the opportunity to take the little Shield out to the range. I have to say I’m quite impressed. Unfortunately the pictures that I took didn’t turn out too well, but I’ll attempt this blog anyways. I’ve already talked about the Shield in unboxing and a comparison to the Springfield XDs-45 here.
Like all M&Ps it just feels right in my hand. The texturing is enough to be able to handle the recoil but not too aggressive to become painful like when shooting the XD-s. Recoil is minimal despite it size. I thought that the high bore axis might lead to some squirlyness, but it handled quite well. Double taps and rapid fire were easy to keep in good groups for defensive purposes. At longer ranges the Shield is adequately accurate. With factory reloads I was able to produce a nice 5″ group offhand.
I am happy to report that reliability was 100% as expected. It ran about 100 FMJs to warm it up and then tried a couple of defensive rounds. On hand I had some Hornady Critical Defense 115gr, Federal HdraShocks 124gr, Federal HST 124gr, Ranger T-Series 147gr and Fiocchi 115gr hollow points, all of which ran flawless. I will probably be carrying the HSTs. I am also happy to report that the safety wasn’t an issue and I don’t think it will be.
One of the pleasures of shooting the M&P is the trigger. It’s like getting my XDs-45 all over again. The trigger breaks at a good weight, just over 6 lbs. It is smooth and unlike my full size M&P has a great reset. For such a little gun it’s a pleasure to shoot. My only gripe right now is the lack of availability of magazines. It looks like I’m going to have to spend some time this weekend making a holster for it.
For a review of the Shield that is better than anything I could come up with watch this. Man can that old guy shoot. I can only hope to spend my retirement days reviewing firearms at my private range… I digress, please feel free to comment if you have any questions on the Shield.
I read an article recently that states that firearm ownership among women is up. Way up. Good. I am of the opinion that women need them more than men. In a world without firearms, might makes right. However, in a world with firearms, the disparity of force is equalized. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t go anywhere I can without one, but I feel like it’s far more important for my wife to carry one than me. Statistically, she’s far more likely to get attacked. Criminals prey on people they perceive as weaker. They always have and they always will. It is this demographic that gets hurt the most by gun control.
It’s unfortunate that more women don’t consider firearm training. It’s really the only thing that can tip the scales in a woman’s favor. I’m not a huge guy, but in a fight with a woman I’m going to get the best a majority of the time simply because of the strength advantage. Martial arts training can come into play, but even then strength can overcome. So why don’t more women train and carry firearms? To me, there’s nothing more empowering for women. I think if more feminists realized this there wouldn’t be such a stigma.
My guess is that the issue with firearms and women is maternal instincts. Psychology today has some ideas. I imagine being the sex that brings life into this world that it would be tough to consider taking one out of it. When we first started to explore firearm training with my wife, naturally, she was uncomfortable with the thought of taking a life. She had a revolver and our work around was to put snake shot in the first chamber. Her logic was that she would have no problem pulling the trigger with the snake shot to scare and wound. If after that her attacker was still threatening she would know that it was indeed a real threat and would have no problem thereafter.
I know this wasn’t the best scenario, but for me it was better than nothing. After some serious training this is no longer a practice of hers, but it was a way to ease her into the thought of possibly having to take another life in defense of her’s or our child’s, or for that matter mine. I think more women are starting to see how it’s up to them to defend themselves. Some may choose martial arts. Some may choose spray other non lethal methods. However, many are choosing the gun. We need less victims in this world.
Do you have any idea why less women chose armed self defense then men? Let me know your ideas. Send me an email or comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I find myself repeatedly correcting my fellow Second Amendment advocates. “It’s a magazine not a clip.” “It’s not an assault rifle.” “The AR-15 is not a “high powered rifle.” Usually they just shine me on and laugh. Some use the terms on purpose around me to elicit a response. It’s important for us as 2A defenders to use the correct terms and here’s why; how can you defend something you don’t know anything about? I mean, I know you like your guns and you make statements that you’ll die before you let someone take them, but you sound like an idiot. You’re doing more harm by using the wrong terms and making stupid statements like that.
Worse than not knowing what a clip or what an assault rifle is is using the anti-gun terminology. If you’ve ever said “gun show loophole” or “assault weapon” you’re letting the anti-gunners control the conversation. There is no such thing as “the gun show loophole.” It’s a device used by anti-gunners to make people think that some trick is being played that lets people get away with buying a firearm without a background check. It’s called a private party sale, and is legal in most states without a background check. When you use terms like this you are in fact supporting their argument. I know that’s not what you’re trying to do.
The last reason why the jargon is important is; that’s how I win arguments against anti-gunners. When they use the wrong terminology I point out that they don’t know what they’re talking about. How could someone advocate for the loss of rights for almost 100 million people without knowing the subject? It’s irresponsible at best and willful ignorance at worst. The flip side of this is true as well. How can you defend your rights, which people see as something bad, without truly knowing the subject? What’s your basis?
Let’s take back the conversation. We do this by using the right jargon, the correct terminology. Don’t laugh at people when they correct you and try your best to not undermine the work that is being done to protect your rights. Above all, stop saying clip when you mean a magazine. Seriously just stop it. If you’re trying to shorten it to sound cool say mag. Please.
It’s always an exciting day when I get a new firearm. The urge to go out and test it is really the only thing that runs through my mind until I can satisfy it. It’s also a sad day for me today because I’m losing a member of my collection. As I stated in my last post, I am changing my concealed carry setup. When I received my XDs back from the recall the trigger wasn’t the same as before and it had lost one of the qualities that I loved about it. I had been contemplating moving completely to a 9mm anyways (my main carry is a Glock 19). So I put the XDs up for sale. It was easy to sell since I had a bunch of accouterments that I basically threw in for free. This freed up the funds to purchase the 9mm replacement. Luckily I don’t have to hand over the XDs until tomorrow so that gave me the opportunity to do a comparison.
I decided to go with the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield. There are several reasons why. To me the Springfield and the M&P are in the same category. Both are highly reliable, similarly sized, striker fired, quality handguns. You really can’t go wrong with either. What it really boils down to is features. It just so happens that my decision was made on price since I really couldn’t decide. The military discount that Smith and Wesson offers is pretty incredible.
There are several other handguns in this same “class” that were not considered for one reason or the other. The Ruger LC9 has a double action only trigger that I absolutely hate. The post recall XDs is bad enough… The Remmington R51, the new kid on the block, has had some serious quality control issues. I kind of loved the idea of the R51 but after reading more about it I don’t think I could ever buy one. The Beretta Nano is just, well… I don’t like the lack of external controls, but that could be a good thing. I’ve owned Khars and again double action trigger. I’ve never been a fan of Whalter’s. Some people love them, I just, meh. Other contenders were either prohibitively expensive, not a proven brand, or had one of the afore mentioned gripes. This left me with the M&P and the XDs9.
Looking at them both it’s easy to see that they are quality handguns. Most parts, like the slide rails and slide release, are machined rather then stamped (here’s looking at you Glock…). I’ll break it down by what I consider the important categories.
Size-It’s a tie. They are almost Identical.
Aesthetics-I have to give this one to the M&P. The XDs looks like the chunky ugly friend.
Trigger-You can probably guess where the vote goes here. M&P.
Trigger Reset-Tie. Both are audible and tactile without being obnoxious like my Glock.
Safeties-The XDs. Both have trigger safeties but I much prefer the XDs palm safety to the M&P manual safety. I need to see if I can get that thing removed.
Sights-XDs. A front fiber optic sight standard? What? The sights on the M&P are standard three dot. Not bad just nothing to write home about.
Adjustability-XDs. Interchangeable back straps. Luckily the M&P fits my hand quite nicely but it could be a problem for someone with larger hands.
Caliber-XDs. A pocket .45 wins hands down. However, I don’t feel underpowered with the 9mm. Don’t get me started on the M&P in a 40. I’ve shot one and it was one of the worst shooting experiences of my life.
Capacity-Technically a tie since the XDs is also offered in a 9mm and the standard magazines are both 7 rounds. The XDs does offer a 9 rounder but the M&P only offers an 8.
Ease of Takedown-Tie. They both takedown in exactly the same way.
Cost-M&P. With my military discount it was just over $300. The XDs with a military discount is still about $450. Add about $100 to both for consumer prices.
Comfort-M&P. Holding it is just like it’s big brother, which I feel is the most comfortable handgun ever. It has enough grip without being obtuse like the checkering on the XDs. The checkering on the XDs works well but feels a little to aggressive.
I will update this blog when I get it out to the range. I’ve shot one before and loved it and I don’t feel like that it going to change. It’s unfortunate I won’t be able to do a side by side shooting. I don’t feel like this would be an accurate representation since the calibers are so different. What I would like to see, however, is how much the slightly higher bore axis effects the Shield.
Did I miss anything? Please feel free to email or comment.
I recently purchased an Alien Gear Holster for my Glock 19. I was in the market for a hybrid holster (made of leather and plastic). I noticed their advertisement in an issue of American Rifleman. Mostly what I noticed was the price. It was half the price of other name brand hybrid holsters. There had to be a catch so I checked out their website. The boast all of the features I like about my other hybrid holsters but also adjustable retention, sweat proof leather and thicker plastic. It also comes with a “combat cut” which you have to pay extra for on other holsters. You can watch a good video of a comparison between the Alien Gear and the more expensive Crossbreed holsters here. They also have a cool feature that if you decide to change your carry weapon you can send in the shell and they will send you a new one for free. Since they have a 30 day money back guarantee so I decided to give them a try.
My order was shipped quickly and arrived just a couple of days later. This was a welcome when compared to my last wait time from Crossbreed (3 months). The holster came simply packaged in a bag with an instruction sheet, a copy of their guarantee and a spare bag of parts which was a nice touch. First impressions were great. The leather was every bit as nice as they said it was. It has their logo in silver emblazoned on it. The plastic shell isn’t a molded thermoplastic like most hybrids but is an injected molded plastic. I can’t decide if it’s better or worse. I imagine this is how they are able to keep costs down since injected molded is cheaper and faster to produce. It also makes it look a little cheaper. Since I work with kydex, I have an affinity for the texture of it and a nicely finished edge. The edges on the Alien Gear leave a little to be desired.
Retention on the holster out of the box was perfect. The retention is able to be changed by tightening the screws around the shell and crushing the rubber grommets in between but this was unneeded. It fits my Glock nicely and the sweat shield comes up to where it’s supposed to. The leather was pretty stiff but wore in nicely in about two weeks. One gripe that I have with the Alien Gear is that the post screws for the adjustable cant are preinstalled. Since I figured that the best position for me was in the middle on both sides the bottom posts stick out and eventually wore some holes in my pants. I no longer wear this holster because I have gone to an appendix carry but if I were to I would have to take out those posts.
My last two gripes have to do with the ability to customize. The holster works great for someone with a primarily stock firearm. However if someone were to use silencer height sights I don’t think this holster would work. The channel at the top isn’t deep enough. Secondly the shell comes up too high on the side to be able to use a red dot type sight. Since most people would not have these modifications done (I don’t) I don’t blame Alien Gear for not incorporating it. It would be a small change to make to the mold however.
In all this is a great holster at a great price. It has a ton of features that more expensive holsters do not. With that one small modification I would have no problems using it for an every day carry situation. Do you carry one of these? Let me know how you like it!