Top 10 Best Handguns to Buy for Home Defense
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This page is not meant to replace the information that you will get in a handgun safety course or from a qualified professional, and it is not meant as an exhaustive resource on the tactical and legal issues surrounding the use of deadly force. You must consult a professional both in self-defense and the law for the real dirt about these issues in your place of residence.
When it comes to choosing the best handgun for home defense, a variety of factors should be considered. While price is an obvious consideration, the skill level of the shooter, the size and strength of the shooter, and ease of use during a potentially life-threatening invasion are also important aspects that play into a handgun purchase. (See some great options here).
- 1 Factors to Consider When Shopping for the Best Handguns for Home Defense
- 2 Buying the Best Guns for Home Defense ~ What You Should Know
- 3 Best Handgun to Buy for Solely Home Defense
- 4 Cross-Sectional Area
- 5 Bullet Weight and Speed
- 6 What Not To Use
- 7 My Personal Choice For Home Defense Handgun
Factors to Consider When Shopping for the Best Handguns for Home Defense
Revolver or Semi-Automatic For Home Defense?
While this debate is sure to make for interesting conversation among gun aficionados, for the purpose of home defense, a revolver is a solid choice.
Semi-automatics take more time to properly learn, as they have more moving parts. This leads to the potential for more things going wrong and the need to learn how to react quickly.
Revolvers, on the other hand, are simpler but generally hold fewer bullets than a semi-automatic. They are a bit slower to reload, but they take less skill to operate. This is important in a crisis situation, as people tend to have tunnel vision during these times. Having fewer steps to remember in operating a self-defense handgun is important.
While a semi-automatic is a great choice for a skilled shooter, most casual shooters will be better served with a revolver.
Size and Weight of the Gun
Some guns are heavy. For a person with a powerful grip and a steady hand, these may feel just right. Getting a self-defense handgun that feels comfortable is extremely important.
Individuals with less hand strength will probably want to choose a handgun that is smaller and lighter. There is no right or wrong with regards to size and weight other than if a gun feels too heavy or bulky, it is probably a bad idea for a home handgun.
Caliber and Stopping Power
The bigger the bullet, the more likely that a hit will stop an intruder. The speed of the bullet also plays a role, but almost any handgun fires bullets at sufficient speed to do the necessary damage. To get a good amount force for home defense, a caliber of around .38 or higher is a good minimum.
Also, all things being equal, the bigger the bullet, the stronger the kick from the gun the shooter will experience when firing. It is a good idea to fire guns of various calibers to see what can be comfortably withstood. Firing a gun that gets knocked out of the shooter’s hands due to kick is not going to help much with home defense.
While there are many more factors that could be discussed regarding the best handgun for home defense, based on the above-mentioned criteria, the SMITH & WESSON – M&P22 COMPACT 3.56IN 22LR is the best handgun for home protection. It is not limited by caliber, but can fire 25 different sized rounds in the .38/9mm/.357 range. This allows a shooter to choose the bullet that feels the most comfortable to fire.
It also comes in a variety of lengths, from a 2.5 inch barrel up to a 6 inch barrel. This will help with weight and size, as the shooter can test out different sizes to see which feels best. It is also a revolver and is simple to operate. While quite rare, the Medusa Model 47 is unique but offers unprecedented versatility for home defense. Check out the best handgun chart for all the greatest reviews.
Buying the Best Guns for Home Defense ~ What You Should Know
It’s “O-dark thirty” when you are awakened suddenly by the sound of strange noises in your home. Your pulse instantly goes from resting to over 100 beats per minute.
Every noise you analyze and each new sound seems magnified. You wipe the sleep from your eyes as you quietly roll over fully awake. Fear quickly sets in as you are struck by the sudden realization that you are not truly prepared for what comes next.
Rather than going in search of an intruder in your home, a better strategy often is to seek cover and call police while being prepared for any eventuality.
This is not the time to be questioning anything, especially your choice of a defensive handgun or what tactics are required to deal effectively with an unwanted intruder. The first step in preparing for this situation is to analyze certain factors present in your home. And, in my opinion, the best way to do this is by writing them down.
Visualize how your home is laid out
What are the probable entry points from the outside? Can you turn the lights on in the main living areas and hallways from your bedroom or other convenient location? Do you have common walls with your neighbors that a bullet might penetrate? Are there children living with you? What plans have you made to guard them? Where can you defend against an aggressive intrusion?
Also, consider whether you need to go in search of the intruder. Why force an encounter over a few possessions? And it may be better tactically to let them be surprised when they find you prepared for them!
What are your current handgun-handling skill level and level of training in home-defense?
Who else is capable or likely to use this handgun if you are not home, and what is their level of training? Can they shoot a pistol without flinching?
Be very honest in your evaluations of these issues. Your life and the lives of others may depend on your truthful evaluation and the resulting steps you are about to take.
Once you have written all this down, you are now ready for step two of the process: selecting the appropriate home defense handgun. Having determined that the primary use of this handgun is for home self-defense, ask yourself if it is going to pull double duty as a concealed-carry weapon.
Typically, handguns that are designed for concealed carry are small in size with barrel lengths in the 2- to 4-inch range. They also tend to be as light as possible to minimize fatigue to the wearer and are usually not chambered for one of the larger magnum calibers.
Will it also do duty as a hunting gun? Handguns designed primarily for use in hunting will be much larger in size, having massive barrels in the six- to eight-inch range, and will be heavy in overall weight. Hunters often utilize some sort of rest or additional support while shooting. This aids in stabilizing the additional weight of the hunting handgun. This technique is not always possible in the home-defense scenario.
Best Handgun to Buy for Solely Home Defense
A handgun whose sole purpose is home protection should typically have a barrel length of three to five inches and be of moderate weight. The moderate weight aids in recoil control. A handgun that is too light will transmit more energy to the shooter, making it less comfortable to shoot and thus more difficult to control during recoil. A handgun that is too heavy is not as quick to point or steady to aim under stressful situations.
- Is there a handgun that others in your household already know how to use? This will assist in the training, in which all adult family members should participate.
- How easy will this new handgun be to learn and use by all potential users? Ease of use under stress is critical. Once your body receives that massive adrenaline charge, your fine motor skills will deteriorate quickly. This is where the revolver can have a slight edge over the semi-auto. Normally, revolvers have only a few controls: a cylinder release, ejector rod and, of course, the trigger. Some revolvers may also have a usable hammer spur.
The typical semi-automatic may have as many as six or more external operating controls. While both types of handguns require supervised training to be operated to their full potential, under stress simplicity of operation is always a desirable feature.
Wilson Combat .38 Super Sentinel
Bill Wilson’s latest handgun offering from Wilson Combat is the Super Sentinel in .38 Super. This caliber is not often seen today, but the .38 Super was developed as the first issued carry weapon for the FBI. It was the first single-stack magazine design for the 1911 platform, which makes the gun slimmer and easier to conceal. An advantage for the fledgling FBI of the 1930s was the ability of the round to penetrate bullet proof vests and car doors as well.
Springfield XD 9mm
With all of the excellent weapons out there, what does this one have to recommend it? If you go by reviews online, most users praise the gun’s reliability, noting apparently without exception, that there are no problems with the gun jamming. Most users also comment favorably on its light weight and note in their comments the fact that this handgun is extremely accurate. Surprisingly, many users also comment on the comfortable fit in their hand.
The high capacity magazine and 9mm capacity make it an excellent handgun for personal protection. It has enough firepower to deal with almost any situation. When it comes to practicing with the XD, the 9mm caliber means you won’t have to go to the bank for a loan just to buy ammunition. A final advantage over some other makes and models is that you don’t need any tools to break down and clean the weapon. The general consensus among the buying public is that this is an excellent weapon for the price.
Kahr Arms introduced the CW380 compact handgun at the 2013 Las Vegas SHOT Show to good reception by the firearms press. At less than five inches overall length and less than four inches in height, its small size makes it perfect for carry as a backup. The single stack magazine makes for a very slim handgun.
The .380 lacks the sheer power of some more common calibers such as the 9mm or the .40 Smith and Wesson. A weapon of this type is designed for use at very close range, across room sized distances. The .380 has more than enough punch to do that job with ease.Kahr has done a great job on the fit and finish of this handgun, and it handles and points well. Recoil is brisk but not overbearing, a very important consideration when firing a weapon of such small size. Reports are that this gun stays on target very well and its recoil does not interfere with that.The CW380 offers lots of quality in a price that makes owning it as a second or backup piece an easy decision. The small size, slim cross section and light weight make the CW380 attractive for an everyday concealed carry weapon as well.
Taurus Millennium Pro
Taurus International has long been known for its ergonomic handgun design. These guns are designed to fit the hand securely and to point well. They have a solid heft and feel, the balance is good and the price is right.
The Taurus Millennium Pro carries this tradition forward, and brings in quick handling due to its short length overall for the class. This handgun is available in several different calibers including 9mm, .40 Smith and Wesson and .45 ACP. One attractive option in .45 ACP offers a single stack magazine design for a slimmer overall weapon.In 2008 there was a flap over safety issues with one Millennium Pro model, the PT145. This appears to have been raised by the somewhat complicated safety system. This is not a mechanical issue, as there is a firing pin block that does not uncover the cartridge until the trigger is actually pulled. Even with the complicated safety, common sense gun handling rules tell you not to touch the trigger without a reason. Many gun shops will only recommend the Millennium Pro to experienced handgun users.The Millennium Pro is solidly built, lightweight, handles well and Taurus guns have a reliable reputation. This weapon is a good choice for its price, especially for experienced gun handlers.
Kimber Solo DC 9mm Carry Handgun
Kimber is a name synonymous with quality when it comes to a handgun featuring the 1911 Browning design. Military Police and beat cops alike are fans of the Kimber Solo, and it’s easy to see why.
Similar in size and shape to the Springfield XD, the Kimber Solo is one handgun that features ergonomic design with very thoughtful placement of necessary items such as the safety and the magazine release. Speaking of the magazine release, the magazine easily falls and clears the well when the release is pressed, making magazine changes quick and worry-free.
The grip design and geometry is comfortable and easy to manage when drawing the handgun out of its holsteror putting it away. You can always replace the grips with new plus there are some other great accessoriesthat go along with this gun.
Like every Kimber, the new Solo is a real eye pleaser. The satin finish and available fine wood grips complement each other perfectly. This piece is a joy to handle and the quality of workmanship is evident in its heft and finish.
Kimbers are well known for shooting reliability, and the new Solo is no disappointment in that department, either. Feeding problems, cartridge hangs and stovepipes are virtually non-existent when using a Kimber Solo.
The new Kimber Solo is definitely worthy of the family name. See what Guns&Ammo magazinehas to say about this gun.
Because of highly publicized school and workplace shootings, gun owners and gun ownership have come under attack. What is completely ignored is the good that handguns do. Many people, particularly women, are afraid to own a handgun. Perhaps you would like to share with us what features prompted you to buy the gun you have, or maybe submit a review of a new gun on the market you are thinking of buying. When it seems that everything has been thought of, some manufacturer will come up with an improvement which will move their product to the top of your list.
CALIBER SELECTION For Home Defense Handguns
What caliber selection should you select? Ideally, a home-defense handgun should be of at least a 9mm Luger or .38 Special caliber or larger.
Cartridges with bullets of 9mm/.355-diameter or less often lack the weight to penetrate deeply enough to reach vital areas and stop aggressive attacks. So the probability of bringing your life-threatening situation to a quick resolution is greatly diminished. You should choose the largest caliber and frame combination that fits your hand and that of the others likely to use your home-defense handgun.
|A lighted safe box like this one from Mossberg offers quick access to a home defense handgun while keeping it secure from children.|
You must be able to guarantee your hits 100 percent of the time with that handgun. A center hit from a 9mm is far better than a miss from a .44 Magnum.
Your handgun and ammunition choice should comprise a complete defensive combination. They must be mutually agreeable to each other and to you. Your defensive combination must also be 100 percent reliable. Price is not always an indicator of reliability.
I have had experience with very expensive handguns that required a 500- to 1,000-round break-in period before they were 100 percent reliable. I have also had to exchange new magazines when they did not feed 100 percent of the time. Reliability cannot be over-stressed. A medium-priced defensive handgun that shoots two- to three-inch groups at 25 yards 100 percent of the time is a much better choice than opting for an expensive handgun with only 80 percent reliability but has the potential to shoot one and a half-inch groups at 25 yards.
It should be noted that to a great extent your selection of ammunition affects functional reliability, especially with a semi-auto. Be sure that 100 rounds of your selected ammo runs through your handgun flawlessly before finalizing that round as your defensive choice. Any decent defensive handgun must be able to function reliably with cartridges loaded with hollowpoint bullets.
Knowing where and in what condition you prefer to store the handgun will also aid in your selection. Again, if there are children in the home, this will significantly influence your weapon choice and secure storage options. Handguns must not be stored where those we don’t want to get to them can access them. A quality gun vault, locked file cabinet or drawer goes a long way in obeying the laws and protecting not only you but also your children.
Other handgun features such as high-capacity accessory rails and fancy stocks may be nice, but they should carry only minor points in making your final selection of a self-defense handgun.
Equally important with your new home defense handgun purchase is getting proper home-defense training. Would you risk your life by buying an Indy-style race car and without proper instruction take it to a track and try to drive 230 miles an hour?
Of course you wouldn’t.
So why would you pay good money for a defensive handgun and not seek out quality ongoing training? Your life is at stake in both scenarios. What most people don’t consider is for about the price of that handgun, you can get professional training that is just as important as choosing the best home defense handgun.
|Revolvers with 3- or 4-inch barrels such as this Ruger SP101 are desirable defensive firearms over 2-inch snubbies because of the better balance and recoil control.|
Tactics and proper home-defense skills must be learned and practiced. Sometimes the only thing that separates you from your armed opponent is your level of training. Any edge you can get in an armed confrontation may be what makes you the victor that day.
Having thoroughly thought out and written down your answers to all of these questions, notes in hand, a trip to your local gun store is now in order. If a revolver has your interest, here are a few of my personal favorites.
One manufacturer that sometimes does not get the press it deserves is Taurus. Its models 65 or 66 offer excellent quality at affordable prices.
Taurus’s model 66 holds seven cartridges. While capacity is only a secondary factor, there is something to be said for the comfort of having that one extra chamber. Even if for no other reason than that you can store your handgun safely with the hammer down on that empty chamber and still have six rounds in the other chambers ready for service.
Smith & Wesson certainly offers a plethora of fine choices. Take a close look at its models 65LS, 686, 60 or 66. These all have good triggers, satisfactory sights, enclosed ejector shrouds and come in numerous variations that should fit any hand and budget. Plus, they will give you a lifetime of service.
Ruger also makes some fine revolvers. Ruger’s GP100 or SP101 and its cousins again have ejector shrouds, come in three- and four-inch barrel lengths, are of medium weight and like any quality tool, given proper maintenance, will last a lifetime.
Another factor to consider when looking at revolvers is how, under stress, will you reload this handgun? I recommend that you only choose a revolver that will accept the use of either a speedloader or full moon clips.
If you find that a semi-automatic would qualify more for your defensive needs, here are a few to examine. One could never talk about semi-autos without first going to the granddaddy of them all, the Colt Government Model of 1911 and all of its clones. I must advise you not to get caught up in the gadget-de-jour syndrome associated with many 1911s these days. Stay away from competition or “race” guns for self-defense. Stick with the basic, old reliable Browning design.
|The SIG-Sauer line of semi-auto pistols have a proven reputation with law enforcement and are deserving of serious consideration for a home defense handgun.|
Many of the 1911s available today have been modernized conservatively to make them more user-friendly tools. Kimber has been making extremely reliable 1911s for a few years now. The Royal Classic has just the right balance of today’s improved manufacturing techniques and preferred features. Standard is an extended beavertail, flared ejection port and full-length guide rod, all at a very reasonable price. Kimber offers its 1911s in several sizes and finish options to fit any defensive need.
Wilson’s recently came out with the Millennium Protector model. This is a very high-quality production pistol from a custom house at a reasonable price.
The Glock name certainly will jump to the forefront of any handgun discussion today. For variety of models, diversity of frame sizes, caliber choices, ease of use and training, reliability and low maintenance, Glock is one to seriously consider. Several of mine have tens of thousands of rounds through them under harsh conditions without ever experiencing a single malfunction. Equipped with a set of Trijicon night sights, a Glock would fit the bill for many a homeowner’s needs. The Glock 22 in .40 S&W;, the Glock 17 in 9mm, or the smaller brothers of the above two�the Glock models 23 & 19, respectively�should all be considered.
I would also suggest you give a serious look at the models from SIG-Sauer. The SIG 220s, 226s and 229s in their various calibers have earned a well-deserved reputation for accuracy, reliability and durability from many law enforcement agencies around the country.
If you are unsure about making the right choice, check with your shooting range about gun rentals. Many ranges now offer gun rentals by the hour. Go and try out your potential selection first to find out if it really fits your requirements.
Once you have made your purchase, get qualified training, not just once but on an ongoing basis. Rotate your defensive ammo periodically through your handgun and make sure all those able in your household are qualified in the safe handling and use of it. Have a safe area in your home where emergency supplies such as a flashlight, spare batteries, a cell phone and a land line phone are available.
Finally, shooting should not be thought of only in defensive terms. It is a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy and a good way to spend quality time with your children.
So far I’ve talked about how the various types and sizes of handguns will influence your choice based on their mechanics and ergonomics. But the most important thing you’re probably wondering is how these guns and ammunition will perform in a self-defense situation. “I know which one to choose based on how it fits in my hand, and how easy it is to manipulate, but how well will it stop an attacker?”
This addresses the basic term used to describe how well a bullet will do just this — stopping power. Put simply, you do not ever want to shoot to kill someone, you shoot only to stop the attack. The basics behind this issue are fairly simple to address: You want the widest, heaviest, and fastest bullet that you can get that will come to a stop inside an attacker’s body and not pass through him.
So the considerations are:
The bullet’s cross-sectional area — how wide it is
The bullet’s weight — how heavy it is
The bullet’s speed — how fast it is moving
This part of the page is likely to be unpleasant, as it must discuss such things as the most effective way to injure an attacker. Just a word of warning. It’s not a pleasant topic, but learning about it can often prevent such knowledge from having to be applied.
It seems stupefyingly simple to say that bullets damage things, but there are actually a number of reasons why.
First, a mass that is moving very quickly carries energy with it — kinetic energy is the strict term, the energy of an object associated with its motion. When a bullet is moving quickly, it has a great deal of kinetic energy. When it stops, it has none. (An object has to be moving to have this kind of energy associated with it.) So if a bullet is moving quickly upon entering an attacker, and comes to a stop inside of him, all of that energy is deposited into him, and that sudden “shock wave” caused by this deposition of energy does damage and can put an attacker out of the fight.
However beyond this, the single most important consideration in how well a bullet will stop an attacker is the size of the hole it makes in him. A larger hole is more likely to pierce something important, be it a bone or a soft organ, and put an attacker out of the fight.
For this reason, the larger calibers are often much more useful. Recall that a .22-caliber bullet is only a shade over a fifth of an inch across, whereas a .45-caliber bullet is almost a half-inch across. The .45 bullet will make a larger hole in an attacker, and is also much more likely to come to a stop inside his body, and not pass through. This way, it will also deliver its full “jolt” to an attacker, and also it will not pass through him to endanger a family member, friend, or prized possession behind him.
However, it isn’t only bullet caliber that reflects the bullet’s cross-sectional area! Remember the hollowpoints — bullets that mushroom out into a flat shape when they hit a target? The diameter of a hollowpoint bullet that has been shot into a target (police test bullets on wet newpaper packs and “ballistic gelatin” — industrial Knox, basically) is dramatically larger than it was before impacting the target. Some .45 caliber hollowpoints, starting out around half an inch across, can mushroom out to over an inch in diameter after they have hit their target.
Hence, hollowpoint bullets are very likely to accomplish the above two objectives of any bullet — that it makes a large hole that will incapacitate an attacker, and that it comes to a stop inside of him, not endangering anyone or anything behind him.
Also, despite the fact that hollowpoint bullets seem gruesome, they are actually more humane for the attacker. If you were to use standard round-nosed ammunition, and an attacker were on drugs or simply maddened, it would take many, many rounds to put him down. (One story told by Ayoob in his book relates a violent criminal who took over 15 rounds of .22 ammunition and then had to be clubbed with the now-empty rifle before he stopped his attack!) Since he will therefore have many more holes in him, his chances of survival are dramatically decreased. However, if you can put him down with only two or three hollowpoint rounds, the better for him when he is in surgery. You only want to shoot someone until they no longer present a threat, and if you can also shoot him as few times as possible, of course that’s far better, morally and legally.
Bullet Weight and Speed
Both of these considerations impact the amount of kinetic energy an object has — its weight, and its speed (which depends on the amount of powder contained in the casing). A light object travelling quickly may have the same amount of kinetic energy as a larger object travelling more slowly. Often, it may have more, since kinetic energy increases more sharply with greater speed. (If you’re reading this and feel motivated to “educate” me about physics or dynamics, please refrain from doing so. I’ve got an MS in physics and I’ve taught the subject at the university level, so I can guarantee you I know whereof I speak. So I’m not interested in having amateur know-it-alls mangle kinematics in an effort to “teach” me, or “impress the girl.”)
So do we use a light, fast bullet or a slower, more massive one? The above considerations illuminate the proper choice.
While the amount of energy imparted to an attacker’s body is a consideration in bullet and caliber choice, the size of the hole it makes is, as well. And plainly put, larger, more massive bullets make bigger holes. They are also more likely to come to a stop inside an attacker and thus deliver the full jolt of energy to him in the first place, as well as safeguarding any innocents who might be standing behind him.
As a result, the balance weighs more heavily on the side of slower, more massive bullets. A fast .22 will not be an optimum choice compared to a lower power .38.
What Not To Use
There are certain kinds of handguns and ammunition that you should avoid using for self-defense purposes. In general, you want to avoid overly small and also overly powerful ammunition for a number of reasons, with some exceptions.
This means that the .22 and .25 caliber rounds are out, unless you have a physical problem that prevents you from shooting anything more powerful. .22’s are far too small, and .25’s are far too weak! The latter is also regarded as a traditional “ladies’ weapon,” as well — of course, the weakest of all handguns with the least stopping power is considered the ideal handgun for the most uniformly victimized segment of society. Bleah. Ignore the useless .25 caliber, along with any other weapon that is solemnly recommended to you based on your double X chromosomes. Your sex has nothing to do with the right handgun for you .
Other extremely powerful rounds (mostly very, very fast ones) should be avoided, such a .357M and .44M. They are very fun to shoot, and the .357 caliber handgun can be an excellent choice since it shoots .38’s as well, but as a home defense choice, they are poor. One of the things that people tend not to consider when they choose a handgun for home defense is the noise that it makes when it is shot. When you are in your home at 2am, the noise from a Magnum round of any caliber may damage your hearing permanently. (Of course a .38 isn’t going to be terribly quiet either, but the Magnum calibers are staggeringly loud.) When you may well have to scope out your house for a second intruder who will be on alert from hearing the gunshot, and possibly calling for police and an ambulance, it’s not the time for a dull ear! Magnums also have a reputation for extreme penetration, and hence the increased amount of powder may well blow a bullet, even a hollowpoint, clear through an attacker to endanger a loved one or prized possession behind him.
Your ideal choices for defensive handguns are, in order of increasing strength:
- the .380, usually an autoloader
- the 9mm, also an autoloader caliber, although there are some revolvers that can shoot this
- the .38, usually for revolvers; the .38 is my ideal choice
- the .45
If you are interested in shooting .38’s, you may want to seriously consider purchasing a .357M revolver anyway. You can enjoy shooting two different kinds of ammunition out of it at the range, and load it with .38’s for defensive purposes. The increased weight of the .357M handgun often makes shooting .38’s a breeze since the heavier the handgun, the better it absorbs the recoil.
My Personal Choice For Home Defense Handgun
True Confessions time — what’s my own choice? A Ruger GP100 .357Magnum six-shot revolver with a 4″ barrel.
Why? I’ll outline it for you so you can see an example of one person’s decision-making process.
I’m a resident of southern California, where the permits to carry a concealed weapon are almost as rare as blue diamonds. I’m not interested in concealability on my person, so a 4″ barrel suits me fine. I was actually hoping to purchase one with a 6″ barrel because I enjoy target shooting, and the extra 2″ of barrel makes sighting easier. However, I decided to go for the 4″ barrel, and it worked out well since it fits perfectly in my concealment spot in my place of residence.
I opted for the larger GP100 six-shot over the SP101 5-shot since my hands are larger and hence I have no concerns over finding a gun that fits my hand in the slightest. And shooting magnum caliber rounds out of a heavier frame makes the recoil more manageable.
I chose a .357M because this revolver can also shoot .38sp cartridges as well — this isn’t doing anything against the design of the gun; it’s supposed to take .38’s or .357’s. This way, I can practice with a magnum caliber handgun (and they are fun to shoot) and still put .38’s in it for defensive purposes. A .357M revolver essentially gives you two-for-one since you get a .357M and a .38 for the price of one handgun.
I chose a Ruger because, after shooting a friend’s GP100, I loved the way it felt. It shoots fairly smoothly, has a nice even trigger pull, and is ergonomically compatible with my grip and stance. I also wanted to patronize Ruger since the president of the company is lefthanded, and hence his autoloaders are all designed as ambidextrously as possible. Some people dislike his politics since he sometimes supports some gun control measures, but I feel that the superiority of his product outweighs that.
I chose a revolver because I preferred the mechanical transparency of the device; revolvers are certainly complex, but can seem less so than autoloaders, and hence they make excellent choices for first handguns. They are simpler to operate, and are less likely to snap a nail! Even long acrylic or silk nails won’t keep you from using your revolver, whereas they would get in the way with an autoloader. I also chose one since I am lefthanded, and autoloaders often eject the empty brass towards my head instead of away from me, as they would with a righthander.