Firearms. Prepping 101 series. Pistols

Firearms. Prepping 101 series. Pistols

Firearms, Prepping 101 series has been our discussion over the last couple of weeks this week it’s Pistols. Last time we talked, we were talking about Rifles

The sidearm is exactly that. A weapon that is carried at your side in a holster of some flavor. We can fill HUNDREDS of pages on makes, models and caliber. But we’re just going to keep it to the bare basics. For now.

Action type.

Like rifles and shotguns, pistols come in multiple action types, such as:

  • Single shot
  • Single action revolver
  • Double action revolver
  • Double action only revolver
  • Single action semi automatic pistol
  • Double action semi automatic pistol
  • Double action only semi automatic pistol
  • Striker fired semi automatic pistol.

The striker fired semi automatic pistol can be a confusing one. We’ll go into the details in a bit. For now, let’s dive in to the actions types.

Single shot pistol.

TC Contender Image via Wikipedia

The most famous is the Thompson Center Contender. The TC is available in calibers from .17 HMR to 45/70 Government. Folks think the .500 Smith & Wesson Magnum is a bad boy? Put your hands on a TC Contender in 45/70!

The single shot pistol more of a niche market. It’s a weapon that has some real uses. But, it may not be as useful to the homesteader or prepper. On the plus side, like the lever action you can have a rifle and pistol chambered for the same round. My dad had a TC Contender in .308. And let me tell you the recoil was impressive. But, due to the design of the gun, very manageable. Perhaps, I’ll take back my earlier statement. The TC Contender may just belong in the homestead.

Single Action Revolver.

Colt SAA “Peacemaker.” Image via Colt USA

Anyone who has watched a western, has seem the Gun the Won the West. The Model 1873 Colt Single Action Army. Better known as a “Peacemaker” The single action revolver packs a lot of punch in a small(ish) package. Chambered from .17HMR to the MONSTER .500 Smith and Wesson. The SA gives you 5- 6 shots fairly quickly. The disadvantage is you must cock the hammer for each shot. And, it is very slow to reload. You must open a loading gate, place the hammer at half cock and push out the brass 1 at a time and load one round at a time.

Double action revolver.

Ruger Red Hawk Image via Sturm, Ruger & Co.

The Double action revolver is a large improvement over the single action. The DA (double action) can be fired by pulling the trigger, or by cocking the hammer and then pulling the trigger. The difference is in the trigger pull. DA can require up to 8-12 pounds of force and a long trigger pull. SA(Single action) will break normally less than 3-4 pounds and ¼ the trigger pull. The DA also can reload many times faster than the SA. There are those that see the revolver as old tech and slow. I invite them to view Jerry Micilek with a double action revolver.

Single Action Automatic Pistol

Colt M1911A1 Image via Colt USA

The Single Action Automatic, sounds like a contradiction in terms. But the M1911A1 makes that a fact. Like the SA revolver the hammer must be cocked for the weapon to fire. Where it differs from the revolver is after the round is fired. The recoil drives the slide back, ejecting the spent case, re-cocking the hammer and stripping a fresh round off the magazine. The weapon is now in battery for a repeat shot. The Single action semi auto is an awesome weapon. Thousands of internet fights are stirred up by, “The 1911 is inferior to the………” Well it is not!

Double action semi automatic pistol

Beretta 92FS Image via Fabbrica d’Armi Pietro Beretta

The DA semi automatic is akin to the DA revolver The long heavy trigger pull is needed for each round. The M9/92FS Beretta is a DA/SA pistol. The standard carry mode of carry for it is with the magazine full, a round chambered, and the gun holstered and uncocked with the external safety un-engaged or off. To fire the gun a long and sometimes heavy trigger pull is needed. Once the gun is fired,  it behaves like a SA M1911. The hammer is cocked and it is SA mode with a light crisp trigger pull. The Kel Tec P32 is an example of a DAO pistol

Kel Tec P32 Image via Kel-Tec CNC Industries Inc.

Striker fired pistols.

Springfield XD Image via Springfield Armory Inc.

Glock 21 Image via Glock USA

Smith & Wesson M&P Image via Smith and Wesson USA

The striker fired pistols are the rage today. There are 3 in my house. A striker fired pistol does not have an external hammer to cock, and is sometimes mistaken for a DAO pistol. In fact, it is related to to the SA auto loader. But wait- there is no hammer to cock. True. To cock a Glock or S&W M&P you must pull the slide to the rear and let it go forward. This cocks the striker. I carry a Glock 21 in .45ACP. My wife carries a Glock 19 in 9x19mm. My eldest carries a Glock 22 in .40S&W We like Glocks in our family. The Glock though, is a love or hate pistol. You either love ’em or hate ’em. The Smith is a fine gun, as is the Springfield XD. 

The Lawnmower 


I have a dear friend, he explained the reliability of the Glock to me this way. “Browning’s, Colts, Springfield 1911’s H&K are like fine cars. They look and work beautifully.
Until the maintenance is not done on them. They they are great paper weights.  A Glock is like that beat up dented faded and covered in oil and grass clipping Briggs and Stratton lawn mower. You put gas in it an run the hell out of it. Put it away and do it again year after year. And it always starts.” He also said, “1911’s are what you show your friends. A Glock is what you show to your enemies.”

Now I’m not saying to abuse a Glock like that. But their toughness and reliability is legend.

Sorry didn’t mean go on a sales pitch of a Glock. But I do like mine and it has served me well for decades. It was made in May of 1987. The first generation of the G21 series.

Try before you Buy.

In pistols, you do not need to spend thousands of dollars on the best race gun out there. And, you shouldn’t spend $100.00 on a Jennings, Raven or Hi Point. (Well, the Hi Point is a different breed of cheap gun. I’ll need to talk about them another time.) Also, do not pick the largest caliber of gun. My suggestion is find your SANE gun nut buddy. Go to a range. Rent a selection of guns and try them. Don’t go on the word of some unknown from the Internet. Me included. There is no substitute of picking up a firearm and trying it out.

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