So, you’re thinking about getting a gun…

Why should a pistol be your first firearm?

The Covid lockdowns and the summer of protests in 2020 have had many people experiencing financial uncertainty and witnessing the inability of emergency services to ensure their safety. In an effort to manage the stress and helplessness that comes along with feeling insecure many folks have purchased additional firearms or are looking into purchasing their first firearm. In the interest of offering some guidance, here is why a pistol should be your first defensive gun.


Pistols are generally shorter in length than rifles and shotguns. Their size contributes to allowing a person to wield the gun without being hindered by corners, furnishings, or doorways.  Even a revolver with a 6in. barrel is still going to be less than 12in. in overall length, compared to 16-18in. barrel carbines and shotguns that will have an overall length of 26-38 inches. The ability to quickly change your position to recover or gain an advantage over a threat demands the ability to maneuver.

Single-hand operation:

First, not everyone has 2 functional hands, or arms of equivalent length, with which to operate a firearm! The ability to manage a firearm with one hand is essential for the person who has to adapt to their body and can still benefit those of us who do have 2 hands. Yes, having two hands is ideal for managing recoil, reloading, and resolving malfunctions…but all of these things can be addressed with a single hand after adequate training with a capable instructor on the proper firearm. Additionally two-handed persons can use one hand to dial 9-1-1, manipulate doors and alarm systems, or guide a loved one while still retaining the ability to employ a firearm in defense.

Distance of engagements:

The data on the following chart is from the FBI, citing law enforcement agents who were killed by firearms. The data shows that approximately %70 of shooting fatalities occurred at distances of less than 20ft. and more than %60 occurring from 0-10ft.


Capably engaging a threat at 10ft., approximately 3 meters, and just over 3 yards, does not demand the accuracy over distance that rifles and carbines offer. Managing iron sights does take some training, just as acquiring any new skill requires guidance and practice. But a compact or full size pistol will enable a person to capably engage threats from 0-20ft. and training can enable pistol engagements at distances beyond 75 feet.


In California there are laws that regulate the capacity of magazines. But in many other states, and in many cities in California, magazines of 12-15+ rounds are lawful to posses and to use in a firearm. Please check the law in the city and state that you are in or might be travelling to.

Concealment & Access:

The major advantage of pistols is that they can be rendered nearly invisible to the unaided eye or can be carried openly and securely with the right holster. Carrying within the home is lawful in California, even without a permit to carry concealed. The choice to carry a firearm is a personal one and on-body carry is the method I advocate, but if a person does so safely, carrying or storing a firearm in a bag, a purse, or in a nightstand is an option. Ready access nearly anywhere is something that long guns cannot offer in the way that handguns can.

Be well. Be safe. Carry Wisely!

Trevor Mardis
9 January, 2021


Officer Survival Spotlight. Accessed 9 January, 2021

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