I was given the idea for the topic of “best hand gun”. My first question was, “best hand gun for what”? The best hand gun for self-defense? The best hand gun for hunting? The best hand gun for your Bug Out Bag?
I pondered over this question for a while. What is the best hand gun to cover all of these purposes? I decided that if I was given the choice of only one hand gun to cover all of these needs, it would be a .45 ACP. Is it coincidence that I already carry a .45 ACP pistol? Not really.
The .45 ACP pistol for EDC
I say not really because if I could choose only one hand gun, yes, it would be a .45 ACP caliber pistol, but it wouldn’t be the particular pistol I carry now for EDC. The reason why is because the pistol I carry now is fine for an Every Day Carry gun intended for self defense purposes, but it isn’t particularly suited for hunting.
Why? Well, it has a polymer frame to help cut weight, since it is a large frame pistol. Seeing also that it is a high capacity .45 ACP pistol, that makes it even larger than a standard 1911 style .45 ACP pistol (like the one to the right). So it would be even heavier than a standard 1911 if it had the steel frame.
My EDC gun, the Taurus 845, has tons of good reviews.
I do like the high capacity, 13+1 rounds of .45 ACP on tap (or should I say double tap?), to me that is comforting. I also like the double action and decocker because I like to carry it loaded with a mostly full magazine, a round in the chamber, safety off, hammer down.
I say mostly full magazine because I only keep 12 rounds in it. There are two reasons for that, the first is because since it stays loaded for prolonged periods I try to let the spring have that extra little bit of room. The other reason is, well, I’m superstitious and don’t want to keep 13 rounds in the magazine.
That way if I need the gun in a hurry it just needs to come up and squeeze the trigger. The first round is in double action since the hammer is down, so it has that long double action trigger, then successive shots are in easy single action mode.
And since it is in decock mode, it is safe to carry with the safety off because if it were to be dropped and landed on the hammer it won’t fire. The one thing about it that I don’t particularly like is that it is what I call it a “50 footer”. What I mean by that is it is fine for self defense purposes, when technically the bad guy will be within about 20 feet of me, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a target gun.
Don’t get me wrong, I can hit targets at far distances fairly well, but I wouldn’t call it a tight group. To be honest, I haven’t tried to hit anything farther than fifty feet or so with it, so I can’t really say how well it will do.
Just by judging it from how it hits at 50 feet I would put much into it at 100 feet, much less 100 yards. A .45 drops so bad at 100 yards (it drops about 3 feet) that combined with the sporadic hits my EDC pistol gives at fifty feet (about 12”), I just can’t see it doing much far out.
Even a couple of videos showing that 100 yard shot, if they did it I know I can…
As I said before, at the 20-foot defense range, I can pop heads all day. So consider situational stress, and return fire, I should be good for a torso hit with it because it does shoot quite well.
I have a beautiful 9mm made by the same company and I can seriously hit a human torso target at 100 yards equally as well as I can hit one with this .45 at 100 feet. Maybe even better. The company makes some damn fine firearms, but the .45 I carry for EDC defense is a lower priced gun that is intended to shoot a person at less than 20 feet. That doesn’t really take much accuracy to do that.
It’s lower priced, polymer framed and a little what I would call sloppy in the fit of the slide to the frame. It has a little wobble.
That’s fine because it gets beat up carrying it around (as you can see in the picture to the right, it gets beat up when you carry it every day) and with it costing only about $300 I don’t care if it gets beat up looking. It will still do it’s job effectively if the need should arise.
A .45 ACP Pistol of Hunting Quality
By no means would I ever take my current EDC pistol intentionally into the woods to try to hunt anything with it like deer or hogs. For that I would want a better quality, higher accuracy pistol. Don’t get me wrong, I would absolutely try if I had to, but it is not the ideal firearm for that.
That pistol could also be carried for EDC, but it would be heavier, and it would cost two to four times as much as my current EDC pistol so it would be a crying shame if it got as beat up as mine is.
If I had to choose only one handgun to cover all the bases I can’t get exactly what I want because, well, it just doesn’t exist. If it did it would be exactly like my Taurus PT92AFS but in .45 ACP caliber. I could come close in something like the Para ordinance, PARA USA EXPERT 14.45 stainless steel 45ACP with a five inch barrel. It is a beautifully crafted gun, very well made. All steel construction with a 14-round capacity.
See a para .45 eat one thousand rounds in under eleven minutes in this torture test:
Of course, with that pistol being a 1911 style pistol I lose my double action and decocker. To make up for that loss I would have carry the pistol in the less safe, condition 0, i.e. loaded magazine, round in the chamber, hammer cocked, safety off. Of course if I went inside a public place and more people were around I would go to condition 1 and put the safety on, but generally it would be in condition 0.
This pistol will do everything my current EDC pistol will do, but it is much more accurate. I would feel totally comfortable taking deer and hogs at reasonable pistol distances of 50 yards or so, maybe a little more. I would carry +P+ loads, where I only carry +P loads now.
My current EDC pistol is rated for +P, but the all steel construction of the Para would allow for the little extra whoomp you get from the +P+ rounds.
Of course with a 230 gr jacketed hollow point projectile made by a reputable company (Hornady currently makes my favorite 230 gr hollow point projectiles with their XTP, pictured right) and they were hand loaded to +P+ specs, this would be a very feasible hunting cartridge and would most definitely be an excellent self-defense round as well.
Also, being made from stainless steel there would be no concern for the finish coming off or for the pistol to rust. Stainless steel is much more durable that a blued or Parkerized gun.
These are my thoughts on the subject of the “best handgun”. I’m more than sure that many people will disagree with me, but these are my reasons. The .45 ACP cartridge has been around for over 100 years for a reason. Because it is awesome. It is also plentiful.
There is probably still ammo around from WWII, the Korea war, and Vietnam packed away somewhere. Not to mention all of the current production. I’d guess there are literally billions of rounds of it floating around the world. Not to mention that parts are plentiful. Factory parts and custom parts for the 1911 are everywhere.
I’d say you won’t likely run out of ammunition anytime soon. If you wanted to they even sell a .22 LR conversion for the 1911 pistols so you could use it for small game too. (However I’m not sure if it works on the double stack version that I like).
The long and short of it is to use a handgun that YOU are comfortable with. MOre likely it’s the one you already have, and the one you can hit the target with. I can’t honestly say there is a “best handgun”, but there are many very good handguns. These are just the one I currently carry literally every day, and the one I would choose if I had to pick only one.
Eric Eichenberger is an avid outdoorsman, skilled marksman, and former certified range officer and instructor with nearly 40 years experience handling and repairing firearms.
A skilled craftsman with a strong love for working with his hands, Eric spent 20 years as a carpenter and custom woodworker in high end homes. As a gold and silversmith he has created hundreds of pieces of jewelry over the years using the lost wax casting method.
The grandson of humble country folk, he was raised with the “do it yourself” mentality and so is accustomed to coming up with unique solutions to problems utilizing materials at hand.
8 thoughts on “The Best Handgun For Preppers”
The..45.acp does.Have notable drop at 100 yards, which also varies according to the grain weight of the bullet. I still recommend that you familiarize yourself with your weapon enough to accurately account for the drop at 100 yards. I used to carry my H&K USP .45 on duty and 100 yard torso shots were very attainable with that polymer gun as well as the occasional head shot from supported prone. Not as accurate as with my Sig Sauer 228 but definitely a reliable gun. It’s my go to SHTF gun.
The best hand gun for preppers? In what situation? You make some really excellent points in favor of the .45.
EDC I’ll give you the .45 ACP, I love it myself especially for self-defense, though I prefer the .40SW. But then, that would depend on your stature (to conceal.) That’s a pretty large format pistol.
Why would you hunt with a pistol? Especially one that the projectile drops so drastically?
But you completely lost me on the BOB.
I’d recommend the ATI GSG Firefly or SIG Mosquito Yep a .22. rim-fire. Why you might ask?
First, try carrying 1000 rounds of .45 in fanny pack/BOB. Can’t be done/heavy! Sure, you may not need 1k, but it could easily be done. 1k of .45, in a BOB,? Don’t even think about it. .22 is sustainable and won’t wear you out carrying it.
EDC: No problem.
A .22 won’t draw near the attention of a .45. pre or post SHTF
Hunting a .22 Accurate shot can still bring down big game and will leave more meat on the bone than a .45 on small game.
Self defense: Read gun-fight stats. First shot counts. Place it well and don’t stop till the mag is empty. it’s effective! Shot placement is more important than size.
a .45 feeds the ego, a .22 feeds the family.
If we are truly discussing “Overall Best” I would urge you to empty your BOB, dump a thousand rounds of .45 in it and go for hike and reconsider your options…
Would I *really* carry a Sig Mosquito for EDC… probably not, but if i could only choose ONE… you betcha! Without hesitation.
I like the 22 idea as I have a great old High Standard for the last 40 years. shoots like a dream and works 99% of the time depending on the ammo used. I have owned a Sig Mosquito and traded it off because it is NOT reliable. I have worked in some major gun shops in my life and the Sig Mosquito is know for feed issues. If I was in the market for another 22 pistol a Ruger SR22 or a Ruger MkIV would be the one to go to.
Well as much as I like the .45 acp. pistol, (qualified expert in the army) and owned a 70 series Colt , I think I would be more at ease with a revolver in .357 magnum/.38 . I owned a Colt Python .357 magnum and with a 4 inch barrel I could still conceal carry with out to much trouble . And I used that pistol to hunt deer in the Wi. woods and I could reach out to 100 yds. with no problem and drop a deer pretty much in it’s tracks , and No I’ve never lost a deer or get away wounded , and there are many people who can attest to this ! But I feel safer and better with a good revolver even just using .38 special rounds . First of all it would be sa/da model with adjustable sights , no shorter than a 3 inch barrel and blued or some kind of matte finish , I prefer .357 mag. but .38 + plus will be ok ! Ilike and prefer using 125 grain jhp. They seem to work the best for me and even if they don’t kill a person on the first shot , they will think twice about continuing to be a threat to you . And I know that from experience too . But I think it is each to their own and what they feel safe and effective with . Just my thoughts !
I could write an article claiming that a .357 Magnum (semi auto or revolver) is the best overall handgun, and could provide equal or better data references than those supporting the .45 ACP. My opinion and $1.09 will buy me a cup of coffee at McDonald’s. I have all pistol calibers referenced in this article and the comments section. Frankly, the best handgun is the one you have on you at the time you need it, not the ones sitting in your gun safe at home. Moreover, the best overall handgun is the one that you are most competent with, regardless of caliber. Any article starting with the words “The Best (whatever)…” are red flags. I’ve never understood a writer’s compulsion to approach topics in this manner.
usually when people look in google for something they phrase it …the best …for…whatever. to brinf people to the site, maybe a new audience looking for some advice, as these are someones experience and advice accordingly…is it the writer or googles algorithms that make the phrase match the seeker?
I completely agree with Dyann, Bob. This article is obviously not for you, as it’s mostly suited for newbies and google the phrase, hoping to find some beginner’s advice, trying to get the best bang for their buck and hoping to find something suitable for their unique situation..
Thanks for all the positive input, the negative too. I’m glad the article got people talking and thinking. That is the intent. I am not here claiming I know everything, just a lot. lol. The “best” of anything is what you are most comfortable with and the most proficient with that you can afford. Any gun is better than a rock, unless you can throw rocks better than you can shoot. E