Survival Pistol – Selecting A Fighting Handgun

Glock 19 Survival Pistol

Finding the right Survival Pistol

Sidearm selection for a SHTF handgun

Just like the ton options for a quality battle rifle there is probably even more options for a survival pistol. Please take note that for SHTF scenario a good rifle is the preferred firearm. But if your completely new firearms and don’t have a battle rifle yet I would still put a pistol at a higher priority. Reason I give the pistol purchase a priority over a rifle is because you can take a pistol with you virtually all the time. Not to mention a good qaulity handgun will cost you less than most battle rifle options.

Unless you live in one of those liberal communist states getting your concealed handgun license should be a priority as it will enable a higher level of self-defense. This article will focus on the more tactical fighting handguns which may not be the best type of pistol suggestions for all people. Attempts will be made to cover those other types with advantages and disadvantages to help decide what’s best for you.

Breakdown of various handgun types


Revolvers are generally not a suggested firearm anything more than self-defense due to its limitations. Most revolvers generally have a much higher trigger weight which can affect accuracy especially in weaker hands. Repeating quick follow-up shots is also more difficult than a semi-auto pistol. With revolvers you’re also limited to round capacity and reloading time is much longer.

However revolvers do have some advantages. They tend to be very reliable and you can fire it from within a jacket pocket and it will still cycle to the next round. Firing from inside your pocket something you can’t do with a semi-auto pistol because the slide can’t move back to cycle the next round.

Semi-Automatic Pistols

With semi-autos you have a choice between hammer fired and striker fired. Without going into too much debate I lean more towards striker fired pistols. Yet I’m also aware of some striker fired pistols that dry firing is not recommended. An inability to dry fire your pistol restricts a cheap and inexpensive method of practice you can perform.

One example is the Springfield XD, a striker fired pistol in which Springfield says it’s not ok to practice dry firing. Glock on the other hand is a striker fired pistol that I’ve personally dry fired probably over a million times without harm. Other examples of striker fired pistols include Kahr K9, Walther P99, S&W Sigma and the S&W M&P.

Examples of hammer fired pistols would include 1911’s, FN FNX’s or the Baretta PX4’s just to name a few.  1911’s are very popular with some and should be noted for being standard military issue for a very long time. The 1911 is probably one of the most popular hammer fired pistols.

Optional safety features of a Survival Pistol

External safeties selectors on are available for some pistol models but does not mean that pistols without safety selectors are unsafe or lack safety features. Glock has what they call the Glock Safe Action System.

GLOCK pistols are equipped with the “Safe Action”® System, a fully automatic safety system consisting of three passive, independently operating, mechanical safeties, which sequentially disengage when the trigger is pulled and automatically reengage when the trigger is released.


Another safety feature is a grip safety like you will find on the Springfield XD models. For XD models the grip safety must be pressed for the pistol to fire. Problem with the grip safety is if you have a poor or loose grip it may not fire when you need it to. Border Patrol agents who was issued Springfield XD’s would keep rubber bands over their pistol grips to ensure it always works. For what it’s worth I’ve owned a Springfield XD 9mm Tactical and never had a problem with it.

Safety features such as external safety levers or grip safeties is something that could interfere with your pistol not firing when you need it too. Realizing that some people will insist in having such safeties to feel comfortable with the firearm I suggest you train and practice extensively utilizing the safety features to instill muscle memory. Draw from the holster and transition from safe to fire simultaneously for example.

Selecting the appropriate caliber.

Visiting any popular gun forum you’ll find many topics debating stopping power 9mm vs .45. Not arguing that your .45 acp does have more stopping power. Defensive ammo in the smaller calibers have extensively evolved over the years making the smaller calibers more lethal. Inexperienced shooters often dead set on having a .45 caliber handgun often find themselves lacking combat accuracy. Shooters of the same experience level shooting 9mm generally shoot better. Simply put it is easier for most people to shoot 9mm more accurately than those shooting similar pistols chambered in .45acp.

Aside from stopping power ammo capacity should be considered. Full size 9mm pistols hold more ammo than full size 45’s. Years ago I did a fighting handgun course in which I was required to fire 3 to 5 shots per second at 3 different targets. Classmates with .45’s couldn’t make it to the 3rd target without having to reload.

A few different Survival Pistol suggestions:

Glocks –

Having the ability to draw from the holster shoot without worry of a grip safety or safety switch is a big plus to me. Glock pistols are the most widely issued pistol of law enforcement personnel in America and they’re extremely durable and reliable. I have a Glock 19 which comes standard with 15+1 9mm but will accept G17 mags that are 17rd. Carrying allows me to keep factory 15rd mag with extra 17 round mags for reloading. G19’s are good size for concealing but G17 offers longer barrel and sight radius for additional accuracy.

Not limiting yourself to selecting 9mm caliber a popular alternative would be the .40. For what it’s worth most police carry the .40 caliber models. Gen4 Glocks have the option for an ambidextrous mag release and you have a rail for mounting tactical lights as well.

Springfield Armory XD’s

Aside from the grip safety and issues with dry firing these make great pistols. Extra factory magazines is a must for any pistol and the factory mags for the XD’s tend to be expensive.

Sig Sauer P Series Pistols

Sig is a very reputable company and while having minimal experience with their pistols they seem to be built very well. In some models I’ve found the slides are easier to rack for women.


Only putting this one out there cause old buddy of mine had a couple of them and swore by them. These M&P’s seem to be a good buy for the price especially if your on a budget and buying used.


Lack of ammo capacity really turn me off on 1911’s not to mention the bulk of safety features. For the price of a decent 1911 you can buy 2 Glocks. Unless you are afraid a polymer frame pistol is going to melt I’d look elsewhere for a survival pistol.


FN makes nice pistols and I really liked initial impressions I got from the FNX Tactical. As I mentioned earlier about sacrificing ammo capacity with higher calibers this isn’t the case with the FNX Tactical that comes with a 15rd magazine. Just like the 1911 they’re expensive and you could easily buy 2 Glocks for the price of one of these.

Ultimately the best handgun choice is what you can shoot the best.

Many more options for a survival pistol exist but determining what’s best for you most important. This article isn’t to select a pistol for you but designed to outline important considerations. Different strokes for different folks. For example if you live in area that stays cold all the time requiring a have jacket a IWB pistol holster might not be ideal for concealed carry. For this person a pocket revolver might actually be a very feasible survival pistol.

Frequently being a gun guy I’m routinely asked for firearm selection advice. I never suggest a revolver to women because that heavier trigger pull affects accuracy. You could always have a gun smith do a trigger job but most don’t buy a gun and take it to the gunsmith. I’ve also seen others suggest those small pocket pistols to women due their small hand size which isn’t always best for them.

Self taught victim of circumstance educated by experience while operating on observation. A mere product of what society has crafted me to be.