By Doug Gilmer
What if you could only have one pistol? What would the be best one handgun to own?
U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- What if you had to choose to live with only one handgun?
This handgun would have to fill the roles of self-defense and hunting. Obviously, this is a very personal choice and is dependent upon a number of conditions which will be discussed below.
I am also not out to start a “handgun selection war” with the readers. However, if by choice, financial reasons, or because of political and legal and decisions you or I were ever forced to choose just one handgun it begs thoughtful discussion. Here are my thoughts for just one handgun.
My pick for the best one handgun to own would be a Ruger GP-100 in 357 Magnum.
The GP-100 is a built like a tank, will last forever if well maintained, can stand up to a steady diet of hot loads and has a good action. They handle well and are generally accurate if the shooter does his or her part. The 357 is a logical choice as it can fire everything from mild 38 Special wadcutters to heavy 180-grain hard cast loads. It can effectively handle small game, big game (within reasonable limitations), and self-defense from both two and four-legged creatures. While it’s a large handgun, with a four-inch barrel and a good holster, the GP-100 is still concealable. There is no task in my part of the U.S. the 357 cannot handle if I do my part shooting it.
Best One Handgun To Own 2nd Choice: Smith & Wesson 627 RevolverThe Smith & Wesson 627 offers an eight round capacity in its large, N-frame. (Photo from S&W)
A close runner up to the Ruger GP-100 is the S&W 627. I’ve always liked S&W revolvers and carried one on duty for years. Also available as the 686+ with a seven round cylinder, the L-frame Smith is a formidable handgun. If ammo capacity is your primary concern, the S&W 627 holds eight rounds of 357 Magnum in its larger, N-size frame.
While the GP-100 may be slightly stronger, any of the aforementioned revolvers would likely outperform and outlive the shooter. If ammo capacity is not a concern and concealability is, a five-shot, 4” barreled Ruger SP101 may be the route to go.
Best One Handgun To Own 3rd Choice: Ruger Redhawk
If I lived somewhere where big toothy creatures roamed I might opt for something a bit different. Perhaps a Ruger Redhawk in 45 Colt/45acp, a Ruger Redhawk in 44 Magnum/44 Special, or maybe my L-frame S&W Model 69, five-shot 44 Magnum/44 Special.
One’s environment has as much to do with handgun selections as any other factor. One has to consider where his or her travels will take them and what threats they are most likely to face. If big bears are a regular threat then I want my handgun to be chambered in a round beginning with “4” and able to fire hard, deep penetrating bullets weighing 200 grains or more at 1000fps or more.
CCI Shotshells in 44 Magnum/Special and especially those in 45 Colt are impressive performers and work well on small game at short range. The revolver is definitely versatile.
Best One Handgun To Own 2nd Choice: Single-Action Comments
I am not disparaging single-action fans. I own several and love to shoot and hunt with them. I also understand the limitations of a single-action in defensive scenarios and the inability to rapidly reload them. With that said, if it works for you, great. My single-action caliber selections would likely remain the same as mentioned previously with my double-action revolver choices. From a versatility standpoint, a Ruger Blackhawk chambered in 357 Magnum can also be ordered with a 9mm cylinder meaning one gun can shoot 357 Magnum, 38 Special, and 9mm. This level of versatility is hard to beat.
By the same token, a semi-automatic handgun is a great choice for defensive shooting and even for hunting. My various Glock 10mms see time in the field each year and I love my Glock 17 and Glock 26 for defensive work.
While 9mm ammo is plentiful it is not an effective big game hunting round. Sure, it’s been used to take deer and one well-known outdoor writer recently used one to stop a bear attack in Alaska. but it’s not the best for this type of field work. There are better choices.
The 10mm Ammunition is an effective fight stopper and hunting round but ammunition can be hard to find off the shelf at times and practically speaking, you are limited to shooting 10mm, unlike revolvers which can often fire at least two different cartridges without modification. I have a strong affinity for the 10mm and while it can do so much, if forced to pick just one handgun, I believe I’d default to the revolver.
Have you ever considered your “one handgun choice”? There are no wrong or rights; only you can make the call on what you believe would best suit your needs. Thankfully, we are not limited to owning only one handgun (at least for now) but this is still a good exercise to consider should for some reason scaling back becomes a necessity.
Agree? Disagree? What would be your one handgun choice?
About Doug Gilmer:
Doug Gilmer is a law enforcement and military veteran with over 25 years of experience and assignments operating throughout the United States and around the world in a variety of investigative, protective, tactical and direct action roles. He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys fly-fishing, hunting with a handgun, backcountry adventures, and volunteering with various outdoor themed wounded warrior events. He has been a frequent contributor to outdoor media for for several years with numerous articles and photos published in a number of media channels. He is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association as well as a former board member and executive officer.