Best Self-Defense Handguns For A SHTF / Prep Situation

Best Self-Defense Handgun For A SHTF / Prep SituationThe handgun you should choose for a SHTF situation is a little different from the one you carry around everyday. Preppers have a few things to worry about that the average Joe doesn’t, because whichever handgun you choose for self-defense you want to make sure it will keep going long after civilisation collapses.

If you’re looking for a handgun for a SHTF situation, it’s worth pausing for a moment to think about what a handgun is actually for. It is possible, of course, to strap a huge scope on top of a 38 special, and go out hunting deer. However, if you are a Prepper you likely already have a hunting rifle for that. Why use a handgun, when you have a gun specially designed for hunting?

In truth, the primary purpose of a handgun in any survival situation is self defense. Against wild animals, sure, but also against your fellow man. Further, if you know a firefight is coming, you have time to get your assault rifle, so equally you shouldn’t expect a handgun to stand in for your main combat armament.

No, what you want to look for in a handgun for a SHTF situation is something you can carry around more-or-less comfortably, carry concealed in a variety of holsters, but also has huge stopping power. It should complement the rest of your armoury, not seek to replace it.

And this brings me to the most important factor in choosing a handgun for a survival situation – caliber. Of all the types of ammo out there, we can immediately disregard a few rounds as simply not powerful enough – whilst having a .22 rifle is useful for hunting small game, it’s not going to stop an assailant. On the other hand, a lot of very large caliber rounds, and notably the .357 Magnum, are already pretty scarce, and likely to be almost impossible to find after the SHTF.

What you’re looking for, therefore, is a handgun that takes a 9mm, .44 Magnum, or .45 ACP round. All of these bullets have enough stopping power, and are also common enough that you should have  no trouble finding them in a post-collapse world.

Suggested article: Choosing The Best Survival Gun For Your Prepping Plans

The second major factor to consider in choosing a handgun for survival is the reliability of the gun, and the degree to which you can fix it yourself. In reality, this means going for a brand that has already built up a good reputation for build quality, and a gun that is common enough that you are going to be able to find spare parts for it.

Thankfully, it’s easy to find a handgun that satisfies all of these criteria, even if you live in a state with restrictive firearms laws. Let’s take a look at some good choices.

Glock 19

A boring choice, I know, but the very fact that this gun is so common is actually a huge advantage in a SHTF situation. Spare parts, magazines, and ammunition is widely available, and the simplicity of the design here means that the gun is easy to fix yourself.

Though I don’t particularly like the look or feel of this gun, I’ll admit that it also has a good reputation for reliability, and is actually pretty accurate. I’ve chosen the Glock 19, though the 17 is also a good choice, because I think it is the perfect size – just about small enough to conceal if you need to, but also large enough to keep going for years and give you a decent chance of hitting something.

Smith and Wesson .40 M&P

I know this is the go-to gun for a lot of Preppers, and it’s pretty easy to see why. The extra stopping power this gun gives you over a 9mm could come in very useful, whilst not appreciably increasing the level of recoil you feel.

In addition, the original .40 M&P is remarkably light for such a powerful gun, meaning that you can carry it almost everywhere. In a survival situation, you are most likely to be attacked when you least expect it, and so you need a gun that can stay on you at all times.

And of course, though this gun achieves impressive accuracy with a bit of practice, having 15 rounds in the magazine means you can miss a few times and not worry too much.

Related article: 5 Guns Every Prepper Should Own

S&W 686 Magnum

I know, I know, I said above that I wouldn’t recommend a .357 Magnum. But, if you already have one of the guns above, getting this classic might not be a bad choice. Though ammunition for it might run out pretty quickly, it will stop almost anything with one bullet, so as long as you use it sparingly it’s a great gun to have around.

The Gun You Already Have

Ultimately, effective use of a firearm is more about familiarity and practice than about having the latest features. Though it can be tempting to buy a new gun specially for SHTF situations, a gun is no better than the person shooting it.

So if you have a reasonably powerful, fairly common pistol already, you already have a good gun for when the SHTF, as long as you know how to use it.

Article written by Sam Bocetta for Prepper’s Will.

Other Useful Resources:

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

A Green Beret’s guide to combat and shooting

Learn how to Safeguard your Home against Looters

The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us


12 thoughts on “Best Self-Defense Handguns For A SHTF / Prep Situation”

  1. 38-357 work because of the huge supply of 38 special. Plus have a lever gun shooting the same gives​ the extra range when needed. This is what I am building around you can sub in 44-45-9mm-32mag-22mag-5.7 and yes I probably am missing sum of them. I am also remembering​ that sum hand gun magazines fit rifles so out of one into the second. Will this work for all,no but it my help those that are counting Penny’s to have two guns same ammo and have a sense of protection.

  2. From the most basic perspective, a nice 4″ bbl Ruger stainless 44 mag would be my best “one size fits all” gun. It can be downloaded with 44 spec for an effective self defense carry, and it can be uploaded for bear country.

    However, for SHTF, I absolutely love the combo of my Glock 22 in 40 S&W paired with my Keltech Sub2000 which will uses the same mags and ammo. The Keltech is a foldable carbine well capable of 100 yard shooting, pushing the 165 gr 40 S&W pistol loads up to full power 10MM specs with the longer barrel. Both guns are reliable, the Glock 22 is fairly common amongst law enforcement nationwide, so scavenging ammo and magazines to feed both guns with wouldn’t be too difficult.

    Plus the combo was relatively inexpensive, and suits as a sometimes EDC when deep concealment is not the imperative.

  3. Good info!! I totally disagree with the statement that a .22 won’t stop somebody…press sec. Brady comes to mind….dropped with a .22 to the head if memory serves.. shot placement is key.. put a round to ANYONE’s knee and it will stop them.. may not kill them, but sure as hell will stop them for a bit…and that may be all you need to effect a hasty retreat. I have a large caliber pistol(.44) for emergency needs…plenty of kick your butt power and am quite comfortable using it!!

    • Thank you. I was going there on the .22. Since more people are killed with this caliber than any other is was a dumb statement. Is it the best caliber for self defense? I don’t think so, but as the old saying goes if you think it won’t stop you stand in front of me and let me shoot you with it.

  4. I’m not sure where you’re buying ammo but I’ve seen no shortage of .357. It’s still the most available revolver round you can get. In addition, when making a list of “priorities” for choosing a gun I notice the author didn’t even mention the MOST important characteristic ACCURACY!. I don’t care how “reliable” your gun is or how much “stopping power” it has or how available the ammo is. If you can’t hit what you’re aiming at it doesn’t matter. This article left a lot to be desired. When considering a handgun.

  5. Any article that starts with the word “Best…” (whatever) is nothing more than one person’s opinion and has just about as much credibility as a pound of crap. This article is no exception. I have Desert Eagle, Springfield Armory and multiple Ruger handguns. I defy you to claim that any of them are inferior to any brand that you listed.

  6. Any handgun from a reputable manufacturer is good. My preference is Sig in .45. It fits, battle proven, and is durable. I own several, from w Germany, Germany and U S. Yeah, they cost more, but cheaper than a funeral. Just remember, they are meant to give you time to get to your long gun, or as a last resort. I also have repair parts kit, just in case.

  7. The best handgun for SHTF is by far the one you have been practicing with and know how to use without hesitation. I don’t care if it is a BB gun or a cannon. You have to train with the gun you plan on using. You have to be able to place your rounds on the target, know how to maintain it, have plenty of ammo for it and not have to stop to read the users manual at the moment you need to use it. I love my glock 19 but it has too much kick for my girlfriend. She prefers something smaller for her concealed carry.

  8. I’ve never been a nit picker, but where in the heck did you get that picture of that idiot racking the slide with his finger in the trigger guard. Trekker Out

  9. Where I live, 357 mag ammo is easier to find than 44 mag, plus 357 is easier to shoot accurately than 44 for me. I don’t think the 357 is a bad choice, but my preferred SD gun is the Glock 19.

  10. Ruger Blackhawk Convertible in 45 Colt/45 ACP can shoot 21 diff calibers. Ruger in 357 can shoot 357, 38sp, 38 long, 38 short, 38 acp and 38 super in a pinch. Few other European rounds as well. Add a 22mag/lr convertible and 327 Fed Mag and you have 4 revolvers that can shoot nearly 40 calibers. If you’re a scrounger and do the research, you should be able to find something.


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