Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.
Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:
- Top Five Types of Revolver Grips
- And Top Five Questions I Get as a Gun Owner
- The Top Five Glock Enhancements
- Top Five Belly Bands
- Top Five Hollywood Gun Handling Awards
Every now and again, someone in my immediate proximity finds out I write about guns. About half a second after that discovery, a question or two surfaces. Sometimes more, some good, some zany. Which gun for this? Which gun for that? What do you think about carrying dual Mac 10s with a 10mm 1911 as a backup?
I’m glad to answer the questions, but I’m also quick to explain that there’s a lot I don’t know, that what works for me might not work for others, be sure to get formal training, etc. Still, I’ve had the privilege to shoot a bit and over the years have discovered some trends in the questions as well as the answers. So, here are the top five handguns I’ve recommended and the questions that usually precede them.
1. What do you think is the best all-around handgun?
By this, the questioner is really asking: What’s the one gun I should buy to handle three key duties: general range/target shooting, self-defense/concealed carry and house/vehicle/backcountry? Truly a tough gun to beat in the versatility category is the Glock 19.
It’s reliable, accurate, durable, endlessly accessorizable, concealable, simple to use, easy to maintain and useful in a myriad of circumstances. It’s a 9mm so the ammo costs won’t break the bank. This is important because with 15 rounds in one magazine and it being a hoot to shoot, you’ll blow through ammo quickly. If you really can only have one gun, then this might be it.
***Buy a Glock 19 on GunsAmerica***
2. What do you think is the best all-around concealed carry handgun?
Similar to the first question, by this, the questioner is really asking: What’s the one small gun I should buy for concealed carry? This one is far more difficult to answer because there are so many good choices out there. But one I consistently recommend is the Ruger LC9s. It’s reliable, accurate, durable, very accessorizable, exceptionally concealable, relatively simple to use, easy to maintain and, as such, a very good concealed carry gun. This is a gun you can shoot a lot (but probably won’t) and that you’ll carry far more than you would a larger gun.
Usually, the questioner wants a single gun for concealed carry, one gun they can know well and safely use. While all gun use requires observing the basic gun safety rules, the LC9s offers additional safety features such as an external safety and magazine disconnect. We can argue all day long about the efficacy of these features but some people love them. Plus, the Ruger LC9s retails for $479, which is a tremendous value for what you’re getting.
***Buy a Ruger LC9s on GunsAmerica***
3. You carry a revolver? Which one?
After I tell people how much I enjoy the LC9s for concealed carry, I’ll sometimes add a comment along the lines of: “Well, sometimes, I carry a snub-nosed revolver…” And that prompts the two questions. Here, the questioner is really thinking, “Phew, revolver. I knew it was a viable option. Let’s find out more,” as if they would have been embarrassed to admit they had actually considered it at all. Here is where I extol the virtues of my two favorites: virtually any S&W J-frame and the Ruger LCR.
I recommend the S&W for its utter reliability and simplicity of operation combined with excellent hide-ability (with the right boot grip, of course) and the Ruger for its utter reliability and simplicity of operation combined with excellent shootability. An LCR is larger than a typical J-frame but comes with an outstanding rubber stock, which makes it a smidge more difficult to hide but totally worth it. While the S&W might be easier to conceal, it is a smidge more difficult to shoot and it tends to hurt a bit more (depending on the ammunition used).
The other thing I like about these guns is that some of them are chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge. Though shooting .357s from a snubnose is neither required nor for the faint of heart — .38 Special +P is certainly adequate — it is fun. For about 10 to 15 rounds.
***Buy a Ruger LCR on GunsAmerica***
4. What’s the best house or truck gun?
Here, the questioner is really asking what potent defensive option that he or she won’t be carrying much at all can be stored safely loaded and ready to go. That means weight isn’t too much of an issue and with increased weight comes an increase in shootability, even with larger calibers.
So, for the gun that’s not going to make many appearances and needs to be utterly reliable and simple to use, I’ve often recommended a Smith & Wesson 686+. Seven rounds of .357 Magnum or .38 Special puts a smile on my face every time at the range. Plus, maintenance is simple and accessories readily available. With the right holster, this could also be the answer to which gun would be best for backcountry duty.
***Shop for a S&W 686 Plus on GunsAmerica***
5. What gun is the most fun to shoot?
I love this question. Here, the questioner is really asking, “What’s the most enjoyable gun to shoot — the one that’ll have you laughing as you load it and grinning as you watch your friends shoot it?”
For me, that would be a Rock Island Armory 1911 in .22 TCM. Fired from this platform, the .22 TCM offers an outrageously loud report, a fireball the size of a basketball, soft recoil and the fast cycling of a 1911 with its short, single-action trigger.
There’s fun downrange too, as the rounds pepper whatever target you’re aiming at. If you do your part, you’ll enjoy fantastic accuracy enhanced by the fact that you can also fire quickly and, as mentioned, dynamically.
***Shop for a Rock Island Armory 1911 on GunsAmerica***
These are my opinions and I’d love to hear yours. Later I’ll write up a top five recommendations on guns that are relative newcomers to the market but deserve a mention since … well … they’re so awesome right out of the gate. And maybe someday you’ll see a top five on guns I’d never recommend…
Discover how you can join more than 200,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms: USCCA.com/gunsamerica.