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 Pieces of Everyday Carry Gear to Give Away (and Get) in 2018
- Top Five Handgun Accessories
- And Top Five Pieces of Cold-Weather Gear
- Top Five Tactical Pens
- Top Five Inside-the-Waistband Holsters
The problem with Top Five lists is choosing which five (of anything) to include. So many good choices in so many product categories… Anyway, here are my top five unique handguns. These all demonstrate more than acceptable accuracy and reliability. As for functionality — as in, the reason why you would want this gun or that — that’s far more subjective. Nonetheless, all of these guns have made their way in and out of my purview. I’ve fired them all and carried three of them concealed. All of them piqued the interest of friends at the range. I’ll tell you how friends reacted specifically to each gun, but the guns generally drew smiles, albeit for different reasons. As you know, they each have their strengths and weaknesses and each is definitely unique.
1. Coonan .357 Magnum Classic Stainless (MSRP $1,540)
Behold, an auto-loading pistol in .357 Magnum, a caliber more popularly known as one of the most formidable self-defense cartridges ever — for a revolver. As you know, .357 Magnum rounds are relatively long and slender compared to typical pistol rounds, so, with the rounds being fed from a magazine, I wondered if Coonan managed to engineer the gun for reliable feeding… Of course, they did.
And after I squeeze the trigger on a chambered round, I forgot all about the design that went into feeding the cartridges and gave my full interest to managing the resulting fireworks — a ginormous report and ball of fire. A few rounds of that and I immediately began to appreciate the gun’s weight and solid feel. Heavy. Robust. Build to withstand and even master the mighty .357.
Typical reaction: At first, a quizzical look and “Really? A .357 Magnum?” After two or three rounds, huge grins and singular, “Wow!”
***Shop for a New Coonan .357 on GunsAmerica***
2. Ruger LCRx (MSRP $579)
On the opposite extreme from the Coonan is this Ruger LCRx — a .38 Special +P, five-shot revolver with a 3-inch barrel. Weighing just more than 15 ounces, the LCRx feels like nothing in your hand. Firing .38s from this gun gives you a push back into the web of your hand and is largely absent of any drama.
It’s a simple gun, to be sure, and it’s accurate, reliable and carry-able, and therein lies its excellence. Most five-shot .38s are snubbies. With a 3-inch barrel, you can enjoy a tad more velocity and accuracy — not bad traits for a defensive handgun. The other nice feature of the LCRx is the Hogue Tamer Monogrip. This rubber grip provides excellent purchase and allows all your digits a place to go.
Typical reaction: “That was really smooth and easy to shoot. But would I carry it?”
***Shop for a Ruger LCRx on GunsAmerica***
3. Taurus Curve (MSRP $419)
Now in its second generation, the Taurus Curve is one of those guns you either love or hate. I actually think it’s a great gun — and not because it’s easy to shoot (it’s not). The size and shape are just right for front pocket carry and the curved frame really helps conceal it. Six rounds of .380 is not the most powerful or numerous, but it’s sure better than six rounds of nothing. I won’t belabor the caliber issue any further; that’s an article for another day.
But I will suggest just a few more points about the Curve that make it unique. First, it has an integrated light/laser combo. Second, it has no other sighting system save for the loaded chamber indicator that doubles as a sort of trench sight and a bore-axis aiming system (a white “+” on the back of the slide to help you orient the gun if you’re not going to use the light/laser). But use the light/laser to aim, OK? The Curve’s final redeeming feature, aside from its shape, is its weight — 13 ounces.
Typical reaction: “Feels weird in hand, difficult to aim, but GREAT in front pocket.”
***Shop for a New Taurus Curve on GunsAmerica***
4. Bond Arms Patriot (MSRP $598)
While the Curve is curvy and light, the Bond Arms Patriot is chunky and hefty. Actually, at just more than 21 ounces, it’s technically not heavy, but it is such a robustly designed gun that it feels like it weighs more than that. The Patriot is a two-shot, single-action gun. Two shots of .410 shotshell or two shots of .45 Colt. Or one of each!
While no handgun is meant for any kind of sustained firefight, the Patriot surely is a last-ditch, get-me-to-safety kind of gun. Loaded with .410 shotshells, you can convincingly pepper a target twice over if need be. Or .45 Colt rounds can punch big holes. You just have to remember to cock the hammer back before each shot. Reloading is a chore: fire two rounds and you’ll need to swing the barrels open, eject the empty cases and reload two more. Then swing the barrel back in place with a snap. A huge blade on the top front of the barrel serves as a sight, but this is a close-quarters gun if there ever was one.
Typical reaction: “Very cool. But would I choose .410 or .45 Colt? Hmm…”
***Shop for a New Bond Arms Patriot on GunsAmerica***
5. Rock Island Pro Match Ultra 1911 (MSRP $1,168)
Meant for competition and maybe some white-tailed deer hunting, the Rock Island Pro Match Ultra 1911 chambered in 10mm provides a load of fun with a hard-hitting, highly accurate round.
Everything you love about the 1911 is present; all the controls, all the feel, all the functionality. But you’re shooting the 10mm from a 6-inch barrel. This combination means velocity and accuracy — and fun.
A brilliant fiber-optic front sight works with a notched, rear black blade to put rounds on target and each magazine holds eight rounds. Add whatever accessories you want to the Picatinny rail and you’re all set.
Typical reaction: “Can’t wait for deer hunting season!”
***Shop for a New Rock Island 1911 on GunsAmerica***
Big guns, big calibers. Little guns, little calibers. Guns in unexpected calibers. Now it’s your turn: Tell us about the unique guns you’ve had the opportunity to fire, what you like about them, and what left you scratching your head.
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.