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Your Life Is On The Line, What Do You Reach For?

On a lighter note…two of my favorite Guntubers, Honest Outlaw and Mrgunsngear, did a video together looking at Mrgunsngear’s Top 5 Most Reliable Handguns of All Time.

The question didn’t really look at which gun is the best concealed carry option or best gun for those on a budget (aren’t we all?), but just most reliable, period. Mrgunsngear knows what he is talking about as he explains early in the video so his opinion carries a lot of weight with me and he has done the research to back it up.

Two on the list, the Smith & Wesson 686 .357 magnum revolver and the HK Mark 23, really are kind of outliers. The first is a revolver and even the 686 Plus only holds 7 rounds and the Mark 23 is super expensive, my dealer cost on them is still over two grand. That leaves the other three, and I didn’t find any surprises on the list….

  • Full size Glock 9mm, the sample they used was the 19X
  • HK USP
  • Beretta M9/92

That isn’t a surprising list at all.

I am on record as not being a Glock fan, never have been. My first job out of college was working as a manager in a farm & ranch store in Cheyenne, Wyoming and we sold guns. I handled a number of Glocks back then (1995) and didn’t like the way they felt in my hand and my opinion hasn’t changed since. Even still, I freely admit that they are reliable and accurate, especially when you take into account the nearly endless upgrades, and function still counts although I maintain life is too short to shoot ugly guns.

The HK is one I would like to get my hands on, but all HK products carry a premium price. An HK USP9 Expert like the one in the video will set you back at least $1,600. The Glock 19X is available for under $600. The USP9 Expert also has a 5.19″ barrel so it is definitely a full sized pistol.

The second place gun is the Beretta M9/92 series and that is my choice as well. The M9 sometimes gets a bad rap from former military types but as Mrgunsngear points out, many of those M9s are just flat worn out or have been used as a hammer or both. Especially the modern iterations of the 92 are great guns, reliable and accurate, and I personally like a hammer fired, metal frame pistol and I like the decocker only model that will drop the hammer but not be on “safe”. I tell customers that if I had to pick up one of my pistols if the lives of my family were on the line, it would be the Beretta 92X.

What say you? Agree with the list, if not what would you subtract and what would you add?


  1. Don Curton

    Well, if reliability is the one and only indicator, my personal experience is that my 70 year old Ruger Blackhawk (flattop model) in .357 has never failed to fire, never jammed, never went click when it should have went bang. You could also say the same about some of the newer Italian import copies of the Colt .45 SAA, but the Ruger has sent far more rounds down range so it gets the nod. My S&W .38 snub also has a real good track record.

    I will admit my S&W Shield in 9 mm has never jammed or failed to fire, unlike every single other semi-auto I’ve ever owned. I’ve probably put over 700 rounds down range with it, I’ve maybe cleaned it once.

    I have no experience with the other guns they tested, but will say most new name brand pistols are far and above more reliable that any of the autos you could have bought back in the 70’s and 80’s where it was considered part of the buying experience to take it to the range and run 500 or more rounds thru it to “break it in”.

  2. MN Steel

    I figure a sidearm is to get you to a real man-stopper, so my choice (by my bed, so I don’t have to conceal it) is a Remmy 870 Wingmaster Magnum I bought 30+ years ago.

    It matches the 870 at the front door, but is different than any on the list.

    Because I live in the country and with the nearest neighbor 3/4 miles away, I don’t want to put darts through anyone stupid enough to rob a rural home, they deserve to be put down hard so as never to breed.

    It’s like keeping an AR in the vehicle but using a pistol in the tight quarters of a vehicle, it just makes sense.

  3. realwesterner

    I haven’t shot the Mk23, but it seems price prohibitive to be on a normal person’s self defense list. I have shot the other weapons and heartily agree that they fit on the list. I am partial to 1911’s and the Browning Hi Power, but I understand the limitations of both in self defense situations. I’d add the CZ 75 to the list for sure. While the 686 is a good revolver, I prefer the M27 4″ for aesthetic reasons and I don’t guess if 6 rounds isn’t enough, one or two more isn’t going to help the situation all that much. We have no neighbors line of sight where we live, so echoing what MN Steel says about going big fits our situation. That all said, if the criterion is it has to be a handgun, make mine a G21 or a G41 every time.

  4. Tree Mike

    When Glocks first came out, I just rejected them. Then, early on, Glock invited a buncha gun scribes to a publicity stunt. In their Smyrna parking lot, they took all the then current competition up in a helicopter and dumped them from 300ft. All were inop except the Glock, they did a mag dump into a shoot barrel. Then they the Glock 17 back up for a 600ft drop, the Glock suffered a cracked frame in back of the grip at the mold line. Another mag dump proved it survived. Then I read some gun mag review that reported ranges having rental go to 300k rounds with only recoil spring and magazine replacements. At that point I got a G17, liked it, ran into a guy at a range with a G19, shot it, loved it. It cut my G17 group size in half. Immediately got a new G19 (early 90’s) and have carried it ever since. Only failures I had was with non full length resized reloads, they wouldn’t fully chamber, causing a seizure. I’m still on my original recoil spring, but not original mags. It’s the Soviet entrenching tool of hand guns.
    I’ve had shit loads of hand guns since (gun trader/accumulator disease), but it’s the formerly pebble finished, now polished plastic fantastic that I bet my life on (and my G26). YMMV.
    Garden variety Glock supporter.

  5. WildW

    A great point on the Glocks, a few simple tools, and a video or two, almost nothing you can’t fix or change for a low cost easy to get part. Can’t say the same for the 92

    • Hedge

      So do my xd’s and my rugers and my taurus and the sigs……

      All the glock fans say that shit but that implies the other manufacturers weapons don’t. It’s a lie.

  6. Hedge

    1st liner is my knife. You’re getting stabbed in the neck if you get too close. After that it’s whatever i’m wearing that day, weather/clothing dependent. Most of the time it’s my beater g2c cause yeah it’s a cheap gun that works. It’s in a cheap 40 dollar nylon holster that works like a champ. 2nd gun that gets carried the most is the xd sub compact in 9mm.

  7. Big Country Expat

    Depending on threat level at night, next to the bed, a civvie M-4 w/IR and a NVG in arms reach (made a civvie semi 16in bbld repro of my Iraq M-4 some years ago… all “properly” done.) with a 40 round all tracer Magpul M856 really puts the ‘weird’ on people who’ve never had the pleasure of being shot AT by tracers….

    That or my Black Aces Tactical Semiauto 12 Boomstick with 8 in the tube, one in the chamber…all OO buck that and the body armor/helmet/NVG are ALWAYS close at hand…

  8. Anon

    As for glocks, the Dagger isn’t bad. There are more and more printable frames of different handguns too, and since some use metal rails they have become more durable.

    Even if you never will use them, the files are good to have on hand to pass along to others. The FGC-9 and FGC-9 Stingray are seeing use in combat and have for multiple years in Myanmar, which should tell you how useful they are, at least as a way to fight until obtaining better weapons. This ain’t like the Liberator anymore.

  9. Gryphon

    I was an “Early Adopter” of the Glock – I have one from the Georgia Plant with a 3-Digit Serial Number. Shot it a lot for the first few Years I had it, likely 2000 Rounds or more, was Reloading and tried lowering the Charge until it didn’t Cycle, but by then the Bullet wouldn’t go 100 Feet. Never had a Jam with Factory/Milspec Ammo, now it’s the Bedside Piece, although if the Driveway Alarm wakes me up, I’m usually taking the AR to the Window that faces the Garage.

  10. Exile1981

    Given that I live in Turdeaus commy paradise and using a firearm for self defense will get you sent to prison.. i have a sword and a halbred.

  11. Tactless Wookie

    I carry a Walther PPQ M2 9mm. It’s got close to 10K rounds down the pipe and the very best stock trigger I’ve ever shot. I trust my life to this gun.

    Before the PPQ I carried a CZ P-07. It had a failure that rendered the gun inop and had to be sent back to CZ for repair. I still love my CZ pistols, but carry the Walther.

    Like Arthur and many others, I disliked the Glock from the first time I shot one. Hand fit did not work for me. Also like others I do readily admit the Glock is a reliable gun.

  12. Pastor Martin Lindstedt

    Either the 357 Smith and Wesson stainless-steel revolver or the single-shot 12-gauge with the tabbed birdshot shell. When the birdshot shell is cut with a pocket-knife nearly through the plastic case in the middle of the wad below the shot package the cheap birdshot doesn’t have a change to shatter so the effect is of a solid slug. At less than 10 ft. when shot through a cheap Walmart 12-gauge it will make a hole in a garage-sale cast-iron skillit and kick like a mule. Scratch anything down-range. Don’t shoot it through a full choke, works best with a sawed-off shotgun for a planned operation and for close-combat with piglice. They’se Type 4 body armor with ceramic plates won’t save them from the shock to theys’ system.

    Best of all it is cheap. A 12-gauge birdshot shotgun shell can be bought at a Walmart and shot from a homemade or cheap shotgun.

    Hail Victory !!!

    Pastor Martin Lindstedt
    Church of Jesus Christ Christian / Aryan Nations of Missouri

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