Does an All Around Handgun Exist?
Does a do-it-all handgun exist?
Thing about guns is that they are mere tools. They are many other things to people, but functionally they are tools for doing certain jobs much like other EDC gear one might carry. Hitting targets, certainly, but those targets can include critters that one may eat or critters that may mean you harm, such as the malevolent among the human population and those four-legged animals that can likewise pose a threat.
Is there a handgun that can all around handgun? One wonders. You can usually find one that’s good at one or two functions, such as concealed carry, target shooting, handgun hunting and so on, but is there one that can all around handgun?
Aspects of the Best All Around Handgun
A all around handgun pistol would have to be capable of doing everything a handgun is intended to do. It should function reliably, and shoot accurately for certain. It should be capable of being placed in a holster, fastened to the wearer with a gun belt to be carried, including in concealment if desired.
It should be chambered for a round that is capable of defending the person who carries it against threats to their life and limb. If called upon, it should be capable of hunting as well.
Now, a lot of handguns could be carried, but not all can be easily concealed. There are a good number of hunting handguns, but few are really CCW-capable. Plenty of CCW guns abound, but few are appropriate for handgun hunting.
But a few are.
What would those few be?
Candidates For A Handgun Jack Of All Trades
Okay, so what would a handgun jack of all trades look like?
First, it would have to be compact but not too compact. Such a pistol would have to have the requisite barrel length for accuracy at distances beyond, say, 15 yards, as well as getting the most out of the ammunition it fires without being impractical. The happy medium has long been held to be between 3.5 inches and 4 inches. Any longer and the gun gets unwieldy, any shorter and accuracy and performance suffer.
As to caliber, 9mm is a great defense round but is a lousy hunting round, and the same goes for .40 S&W and .45 ACP. There are some heavy-for-caliber hardcast rounds for the latter two that are serviceable, but leave much to be desired.
The larger magnum revolvers are going to be out, as a .41 or .44 Magnum can only be downsize so far.
What, then, is left?
The .357 Magnum, 10mm and .357 Sig rounds are better fits, as all three are capable (and proven) in both roles. An extremely hot .38 Special (such as a .38 Special +P+) may also serve, but a .38 Special +P+ is still eclipsed by most .357 Magnum loads. A .38 Super would also be a good candidate, but ammunition selection is lacking…unless you happen to be/are good friends with a capable handloader.
All three of the above-mentioned calibers are available in service pistols, all three are available in compacts as well. Granted, finding a compact .357 Magnum with a 3.5-inch to 4-inch barrel is a bit harder to feat to manage, though there are a few that come very close.
As to 10mm and .357 Sig pistols, Glock has the market cornered for each though the .357 Sig family (Glocks 31, 32 and 33) are their 9mm-frame size, with the 32 and 33 being the same dimensionally as the Glock 19 and Glock 26. The Glock 10mm family of pistols are available in compact and subcompact guises, but are their large frame pistols. The Glock 29, their 10mm compact, is the 10mm twin of the 36 in .45 ACP.
A few other 10mm compacts are out there, such as the EAA Witness Steel Compact, one of Tanfoglio’s CZ-75 compact clones. However, the 10mm firearm market is heavily represented among 1911s, and the Government frame is one of the most popular full-size pistols for concealed carry due to the slim width. You may even find a few Commanders in 10mm as well.
As to .357 Sig, Sig Sauer still makes a few pistols chambered for its own round. The P226 is too big for a daily carry gun, but the P229 and P239 would both make good all around carry guns…if you’re comfortable with the price tag. There are also a number of pistols that can be converted by dropping a .357 Sig barrel in a gun chambered for .40 S&W.
The Reality Is You Should Get The Best Handgun For The Task You Need
Discussing whether there’s a good do-it-all handgun is all well and good, but the reality is that it’s much like any other “do it all gun.” A handgun is a tool, and ultimately, you want the best tool for the job at hand.
The closest thing in practical terms to an all around gun is a 12-gauge shotgun. A decent pump gun can defend your home and put all manner of meat on the table, from upland birds to waterfowl to deer if you swap the smoothbore for a rifled slug barrel. No good for concealed carry, obviously, but it’s the closest thing to it.
As to handguns, you could have a handgun that you can conceal and carry, hunt with or use as a backup gun in the woods. However, it won’t necessarily be as good as a dedicated hunting handgun for that task nor as a defense gun in bear country (spray works better anyway) and due to the size, won’t be as comfortable to carry as a proper CCW pistol.
Besides, if you only got one handgun that means you don’t give yourself a good reason to buy more.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.