Out of the thousands of firearms that Guns.com sold this year, the most popular category was for semi-auto handguns, which is not surprising as that category has consistently seen the highest production numbers by the domestic firearms industry for the past several years.
Want to take a guess at the top 10?
Spoiler alert: it includes a single Taurus and Ruger, two Sig Sauers, two S&Ws, and four Glocks…
While your best and most effective bet in the majority of hairy self-defense scenarios (barring something laser-guided or belt-fed) is a rifle– preferably a few different ones in a range of calibers– in a pinch a handgun is better than verbal judo, a pointy stick, or the lid off a can of sardines. With that in mind, I made a list centered on pistols and revolvers that are 1) modern, 2) accept common ammunition, 3) have spare parts that are readily available, 4) proven, 5) are simple to manipulate, and 6) easy to maintain.
Sure, each of these has their haters, but most importantly each type has a huge crowd of fans and users that have kept them in regular production for decades.
More in my column at Guns.com
Police trade-in guns are often a good deal. Carried often, they have cosmetic issues such as a worn finish and grips. Cleaned infrequently, they often have crud build-up in nooks and crannies such as the takedown lever and sight grooves. However, these guns often only got taken to the range infrequently– even departments that are very conscious of training and stay on top of qualifications only shoot 3-4 times a year, running about 50 rounds during each event. This means that, while a police-issue handgun after a decade of use (during which it was probably only issued for something like 2/3rds of that time) may look gnarly, it probably is a low mileage gun with well under 5,000 rounds through it.
I’ve collected several police surplus firearms over the years including a former California Highway Patrol S&W .40, ex-Italian Carabinieri Beretta 92S, a Policía Metropolitana de Buenos Aires-marked Ballister Molina .45, and a former Spanish Guardia Civil Star BM– and they all shoot great.
My 1970s Italian police Beretta 92S runs great– but I made sure to change out all the springs when I got it just in case. Don’t knock LE surplus guns
With all this being said, Big Tex Outdoors has a deal on LE trade-in Glock 22 (40S&W) and G19 (9mm) models. Both of these third-gen guns come with 3 mags and night sights for a decent price ($300s).
The G19s seem to all have come from the Asheville (NC) Police department. Don’t ask me how I can tell…
I spent a month in Asheville one week back when I worked as a trainer for AT&T
No word where the .40s came from.
Anyway, just passing on the deal.
Pretty much the whole reason we have the .40S&W round is due to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 1986 Miami Shootout. Well back in 2014, I looked at the FBI’s potential $85 million DOJ contract solicitation for a new handgun and called it for Glock.
The contract calls for a family of guns in four classes.
The guns are in four types:
* Class One Pistol: barrel length between 3.75″ and 4.25″; with a minimum magazine capacity of 13 rounds.
* Class Two Pistol: barrel length between 4.5″ and 5.5″; with a minimum magazine capacity of 15 rounds.
* Class One Training Pistol (Red Handle): deactivated with full articulation, red receiver and slide, night sights.
* Class One “Man Marking” (a.k.a., “Simunitions”) pistol: blue slide or slide with blue inserts.
As you look at the above and think of specs, it seems that the required guns are almost custom-written from Glock’s catalog. The Glock 19, with its 4.01-inch barrel and 15-round standard magazine capacity would seem to fit the bill for the Class One Pistol nicely. The Glock 34, the company’s “Practical/Tactical” 9mm, with its 5.31-inch barrel and 17 shot magazine would seem a close fit for the Class Two Pistol. This could also be met very closely by the G17.
Not all agreed with me– with many gun writers calling it for SIG, Smith or even FN– but in the end it seems that, with the award last week posted by the GSA, Glock it will be.
Pretty much the whole reason we have the .40S&W round is due to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Now, after two decades of flirting with that caliber (while still seeing the .45ACP on the side), the Bureau has a wandering eye to go back to something from its 9mm past– and it looks like it may be tilted to Glock.
On April 11, 1986, pair of hardleg bank robbers, William Matix and Michael Platt, were cornered by a team of eight FBI agents in an unincorporated area of Miami-Dade. Military vets, both Matix and Platt knew how to use their hardware and to one degree or another had the G-men outgunned. The resulting epic shootout left the two bad guys dead, but sadly seven of the eight FBI agents were hit in the process– two of them fatally. The lawmen carried 9mm pistols (S&W Model 459s) as well as several variants of .38 special revolvers and a shotgun. The two bad guys were shot more than 18 times before they went down for the hard goodbye.
This bad day in Miami led the Bureau to rethink its weaponry. Soon they started calling for more powerful guns, which led to a brief fling with the 10mm Auto in the late 80s in the long-framed S&W Model 1076. This round, a little too stout for everyday use and hard on small-framed officers, was downloaded to the same size (but ballistically weaker) .40S&W load in the 1990s—, which was specifically marketed to the FBI first, who immediately began testing the round.
In 1997, the Bureau went all-Glock with the 2nd Generation Model 22/23 and New Agent Class 98-1 in October of 1997 was the first issued with the new guns. With the exception of HRT and Special Weapons guys who carry about anything they want to, most of the agency has been carrying issued-Glocks for over two decades. Since then the FB of I has been on team 40 Glock, with the 22/23 being issued, and agents allowed to carry the subcompact Model 27 if they personally owned it.
Well, that may be changing.
Read more in my column at University of Guns