These are the best sidearms for a variety of situations.
Choosing a handgun can be an intimidating process. There are so many makes and models out there depending on what you'll be using the firearm for.
Do you go double-action or single-action? Revolver-style or semi-automatic? Are you looking for a close range bear gun? Or is self-defense from humans your primary goal?
We're here to give you some ideas on the perfect firearm for a variety of situations.
Ruger Super Blackhawk
The nice thing about the Blackhawk is the variety. You can get this single-action revolver chambered in many different cartridges like .44 Magnum, .357 Magnum, 10mm auto, .45 Colt, .45 ACP and even .454 Casull and .480 Ruger.
Ruger also makes a few models with extreme barrel lengths like the 0806 and 0807 which come with an impressive 10.50-inch barrel length! It's also just a great-looking handgun that comes in both a blued and stainless steel finish.
This revolver goes for around $800-1,000 retail, but older used models can often be found in $350-500 range.
Taurus Raging Bull
The Taurus Raging Bull is one intimidating-looking piece of hardware. This double-action revolver also comes chambered in a variety of popular large pistol rounds that are perfect for big game or bear defense.
The Taurus is available in .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .454 Casull and more. If you're looking for extreme value, the Taurus 513 Raging Judge shoots .454 Casull, .45 Colt AND 410 shotshell! That last one might make this a good defense weapon against snakes or other hazards.
This Goliath of a handgun features a nearly seven-inch barrel, perfect for mounting optics. The downside is the weight; it's a hefty 73 ounces. Oh, and the 44 Magnum models start around $500-600 while that cool 513 we mentioned goes from anywhere from $800-1,100. So there's that, too.
General Purpose Sidearms
Glock, Various Models
We won't single out any one model of Glock here because these are actually quite versatile firearms that can fit a variety of situations. I own a Glock 19 that I often carry for self-defense while camping, fishing or hiking. If you want a greater magazine capacity, consider the Glock 17.
If you want something with a little more firepower, there is the Glock 21 in .45 ACP or the Glock 22 in .40 S&W. Want something compact and concealable for hiking or camping? Try the Glock 42 in .380 ACP or the single-stack Glock 43 in 9mm.
If you're looking for a hunting or bear gun, try the Glock 20 or 40 in 10mm auto. The other great thing is that the components are so similar across all their platforms, so once you own one, you know how to operate and clean them all. Some of the magazines and slides are even compatible across platforms with other handguns of the same caliber.
The one thing I will say about Glock is that the trigger safety system takes some getting used to, especially if you're concealed carrying and you're used to guns with a manual safety. But Glock has great reliability and you can be certain your gun will go bang when you need it to.
Smith & Wesson Model 29
The Model 29 is another solid hunting revolver chambered in .44 Magnum and .44 Special. Many people like to carry this revolver as a solid bear gun while hiking, fishing or camping, but it has plenty of stopping power if you're just looking to fill your freezer full of venison or pork this hunting season.
Much like the SuperHawk, you can get a Model 29 in blued or stainless finishes. You can also get this double-action revolver in a variety of barrel lengths ranging from just three inches, all the way to 10.5 inches.
While this firearm is field-tested and approved by many outdoorsmen and women, the main reason it's so famous is because this was the gun Clint Eastwood wielded in the "Dirty Harry" movies.
Defensive Peace of Mind
SIG SAUER P226
This handgun is the U.S. Navy Seals' service pistol of choice. It almost became the service handgun for U.S. Army, but lost out to the Beretta 92F on price point only. If this firearm is good enough for our armed forces and police departments, you know you can trust it to save your life if you need it.
The SIG SAUER P226 comes chambered in 9mm, .357 SIG and .40 S&W. Those last two calibers guarantee plenty of stopping power.
SIG SAUER has constantly been working on improving the P226 over the years too. A more ergonomic version for people with smaller hands, the P226 E is also available. This is also generally thought to be a very safe firearm too. The P226 uses a unique decocking lever above the magazine release that allows you to drop the hammer without actually firing the handgun.
This handgun also features trigger safeties and a loaded chamber indicator for the safety conscious.
The CZ 75 is praised most for its reliability. Because this one is chambered in 9mm, we'd say that this one is best suited for home and concealed carry defensive purposes only. I'd probably want a slightly larger caliber if I'm hiking in case of bears or other wild animals.
But the CZ 75 is a work horse of a handgun. If you want something that will have minimal failure to fires, the CZ is the way to go. This handgun features a solid steel frame and a 16-round magazine capacity. That should be more than enough for most self-defense scenarios.
The CZ also has a reputation for being able to fire just about anything. Overpowered +P rounds, under-powered reloads, older rounds, the CZ eats them all and spits them out with incredible accuracy.
Technically, Browning discontinued the classic Hi-Power handgun in 2017, but enough of these classics have been made to go around. John Browning got a lot of love over the years for the iconic Model 1911, but he was never satisfied with his designs and kept trying to improve them.
The Hi-Power was one of Browning's final designs. He never actually completed the creation of this firearm, and Belgian gun designer Dieudonne Saive put the finishing touches on it. The gun has gained a cult following ever since.
Chambered in .40 S&W or more popularly, 9mm, it's a single-action design and holds 13-round double-stack magazines. I have encountered many self-defense class instructors who won't carry anything other than a Hi-Point.
If there is one complaint about the Hi-Point, it's that the trigger pull can be a bit heavy and stiff. But this is easily fixed with aftermarket parts.
Hunting & General Purpose
This is another discontinued firearm. It's a shame too, because the Colt Python is a fine handgun for hunting, bear defense or just general use.
These classic revolvers were chambered in .44 Magnum or .357, which is more than enough knock-down power for your average-sized whitetail deer. If you're going to use it for hunting, look for the Python Hunter model, which features a longer barrel for more accuracy.
While it isn't hard to locate a Python, finding one at a decent price is a whole other matter. You're probably not going to find one for under $1,000 and if you do, you'd better snap it up while you can. Most Colt Pythons are currently selling from anywhere from $1,200-$8,000! Yikes!
Smith & Wesson 460V
If you're in grizzly bear country, you're going to want a gun with a lot of knock-down power, and that is where the 460 V shines.
This massive handgun can be chambered in .45 Colt, 454 Casull or 460 S&W Magnum. That means this handgun can be used to hunt some of the biggest game animals on the planet. It probably sees most use in the wild of Alaska where fishermen and hunters pack it as a bruin defense gun.
Make no mistake, this gun has a lot of recoil, especially with the .454 Casull and .460 S&W rounds. However, it generally isn't thought to be as unwieldy as, say, the S&W .500, which some people find to be just plain unpleasant to shoot.
General Purpose & Defensive Peace of Mind
We mentioned the S&W P226 earlier in this list, and this design is the one that beat it out for use in the U.S. Army.
The Beretta 92 is a classic combat handgun design that is great for self-defense purposes in outdoor areas where your only real concern is two-legged threats. You can conceal one of these with the right holster and belt. The 92 comes in .40 S&W and 9mm with magazine capacities of up to 15 rounds.
The 92 features an open slide design and has an ambidextrous safety, making it versatile firearm.
The Beretta is a good choice for someone who doesn't like the safeties of a firearm like the Glock. The Beretta has a loaded chamber indicator and a safety decocker to make carrying it with a round ready to go more comfortable.