Question From a Reader: Best Survival/Bug Out Handgun

This is a question posed by a reader; any input from anyone else would be appreciated. I may be long winded in my answer, please bear with me.

"Hey Jack, I have a question I want to pose to you and your followers, and it may be a little off topic but I'll ask anyway: in your opinion, what is the best all purpose handgun for a survival/"bug out" situation? I would like to hear people's ideas and why they chose the handgun they did. Thanks in advance"

*By the way nothing is ever off topic. I'll work to find an answer if someone has a question. The only thing I don't touch is medical advice (I don't want to kill anyone)

Many people argue this question for caliber choices and weapon types. This is a highly debated topic, the reason is many factors and variables go into selecting a handgun. Whether it be financial reasons, skill level, scenario, or bug out location etc... So I'll try to cover all the reason why I believe what is the best handgun type/caliber for different scenarios.

Most of the time I hear this question answered people immediately say a .22 caliber pistol. You can carry a lot of ammunition, hunt small game, its relatively quiet, and you can defend (somewhat). I would agree with this if I were in a secluded wilderness survival situation. In a total collapse of civilization situation-- where I have to hunt daily for food it would not be bad to have either. But then again, I would prefer to have a .22 rifle instead of a pistol. Because of improved accuracy. The problem I've had with semi-automatic .22's is that they are finicky when it comes to ammunition. They sometimes don't cycle and they hang. I've had the Sig Sauer Mosquito (sold it because of this reason) and the AR-7 Survival Rifle (it too was notorious for malfunctioning and I sold it).

Some folks say they would prefer to have a revolver because malfunctions are less likely to happen. To me if  S$@# is hitting the fan I want high capacity mags...lots of them. In a gunfight--I'll take the chance of my weapon malfunctioning while the other guys reloading his wheel gun any day of the week and twice on Sunday. *if this ever does happen to someone out there-- seek cover and clear the malfunction, then send shots down range from that high capacity magazine!

I have shot and have been trained in many types of firearms from silenced handguns and MP5's, full auto AK-47's to .50 caliber machine guns and Mk 19's. Because of this; pistols to me were developed for close quarters combat as a secondary weapon to your rifle and not hunting. With that said I don't look to hunt with my handgun; although very possible. The pistol I favored using the most was the .45 MEU (SOC) pistol. Basically a customized .45 caliber on a 1911 frame. Mainly for it's knockdown power, and it feels great in the hand. It is single stack and you do give up a few rounds if you choose the 1911 over a handgun that accept's high capacity mags. I own a Kimber Custom II and it would be the first weapon I grab if things go sour. I also use the 1911 Chip McCormick Mags and I'll do a complete write up on those in the future (but I have them in 8-10 rounds). Many Federal agencies as well as some Special Operations Communities around the world choose the .45 caliber--because of the knockdown power.

I also have a Glock 17 that wouldn't be too far behind. The Glock is an amazing pistol that can take an immense amount of abuse. They have high capacity mags and are very accurate weapons. And again, many LEO's are issued Glock's (although in .40 cal) as a service weapon (there has to be a reason why). I chose 9mm which is more prevalent to come across (the round is very popular). The 9mm round will do the job, and its the chosen caliber for standard troops serving in the U.S. Military(again there has to be a reason why). As long as you have well placed shot's you can easily take any wrong-doer's down.

I personally prefer the .45 1911. But if one of my friends or family asked me "what would be the one handgun in a survival/bug out situation I'd recommend" I would say the Glock17. 

  • fairly inexpensive
  • uncomplicated (less malfunctions)
  • easy to operate
  • high capacity mags
  • The 9mm round is plentiful and cheap considering
  • very accurate
  • tritium night sights are not too expensive for it and I highly recommend them if you have a Glock
  • You can also get a .22 conversion kit for the Glock. That = cheap target practice and versatility
I could keep on. Thanks for the question and  I hope I answered your question. Let's hear what you guys thought out there is. If you would like to comment lets take it to the forum tab on the top of the page and we can discuss further.  I opened a thread titled "Best Survival/Bug Out Handgun" Thanks 


  1. The best gun to have in a fight is the one in your hand at the time.

    1. That is true and I say the same thing about survival knives. But if you don't buy one for your bag, you most likely won't have one when bad things happen. This article is more directed to those wanting help with selecting a firearm.

  2. That's all I hear from u guys more is better.I'll take my s&w 686 plus any day of the week.all.38's to 357's.oh I'm sorry it carries 7rounds it must be hi capacity to u guys.all I hear from 9mm.guys is not how great the round just carries more.45 is good love it. But I like the versitality of my weapon.

    1. I think your saying that you prefer a revolver over a semi-automatic pistol. If you do and feel comfortable with that. By all means, do so. I would much rather have a semi-automatic regardless if its high capacity or not. Since I can reload it faster than someone with a wheel gun. My favorite pistol is a 1911 and only holds 8 rounds. It has extreme knockdown power and is single action that makes it have a shorter trigger pull. Ultimately leading to more speed. High capacity magazines are a force multiplier. Why would I not want to have more ammo than the other guy? Especially in a civil unrest or combat for that matter, where I may be engaging multiple bad guys. So I myself want as much capacity that I can possibly have. High capacity equals less reload time! Thanks for sharing your opinion.

  3. You write well and I like your thought process. I'd say go with a Glock 23 with a 9mm conversion barrel, a .357 Sig barrel and a .22 conversion kit. There have been times when I couldn't find 9mm but .40 was everywhere. If times get bad versatility will be the name of the game. Two thirds of LEOs carry Glock. I carry a Glock 19 with a Trijicon RM2 on it and I can't imagine a better pistol.

  4. Unless you are shooting drug crazed loons, numerous attackers or trained military/FEMA dudes trying to kill you, as was stated earlier, the gun you have on hand... I prefer a 1911 basic weapon like I was trained with in the military! It is effective for close quarters and for last resort for anything beyond 25 to 50 yards! Nevertheless I would probably use my Glock 22 in 40 S&W as I also have a Keltek sub 2K in the same caliber and with the longer barrel on the Sub2K, it easily reaches out with good accuracy to 75 and even 100 yards! So, bottom line, Glock 22 and Sub2K in .40 S&W as they not only take the same ammo but also use the same magazines!

  5. 1911s are great weapons, but FOR THIS APPLICATION i have to agree - this is the only time i would recommend glocks -- get an HK, and if you can't afford one, get a Springfield XDM, or a styer, or a glock -- something ultra-reliable and easy to field strip. If i'm in a survival situation and have a stoppage, i don't want to have to deal with barrel bushings and making sure the link is pointing the right way, etc, etc.

  6. Am an old nam vet. Due to age, mobility issues and the fact I live in a smaller town in Montana, intend to "bug-in!" That being said, I agree with the .45. I was trained with one - and not a 1911A1 but the older colt models from WW2 time frame! They are sloppy, shake rattle and roll! But, they get the job done as a backup combat weapon and I have used the .45 many times to take small game or cap a downed elk and deer instead of a rifle round. Nevertheless, my primary home defense is the shotgun, but that is another story. I have a M4 for more serious up close and moderate ranges where more than a 10 round magazine is needed and a 30-06 bolt action for longer ranges. For foraging, I have a suppressor capable ruger 10-22TDT and accompanying threaded .22-45! Although at 68, I may not be able to move as fast as I use to, I can stil hit squirrels with head shots at maderat to close distances and a .22 suppressed weapon can be a devastating weapon in the right hands! Alas, I ramble! Molon Labe!

  7. Hey, your advice is good. I carry a long slide Glock 34 in 9mm loaded with Hornady Critical Duty ammo. I like less recoil and better shot placement. I competed in IPSC and USPSA using a high cap Para Ordnance P14 limited in 45 cal. Great gun but heavy at 48 oz loaded. I also like the Springfield XD's. It all boils down to personal preference. I agree with you, a high capacity magazine is the way to go in a gun fight. A single stack in a 1911 is for the very experienced.....Shotgun Willy

  8. This is great article. This is best air rifle to have in a fight is the one in your hand at the time.

  9. Hello:

    I am late coming to your postings but found this one interesting.
    I agree with your findings with one thing you didn’t write about the Glock. The Glock is like an AR15, it is completely ubiquitous. If someone sees one they will say it looks like a Glock or a cop gun or gangster gun you name it just goes on. However, with the 1911 most often I hear people say it is an Army gun or military weapon. It’s about what people think when they see an object.
    If I were to blend in or as some say be Gray Man it would be a Glock. I personally like the big 3 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45ACP, other than that get some magazines a good holster, and lots of ammo then practice practice and more practice.
    If you cannot shoot 10 shots in 10 seconds at 10 yards then you need more trigger time. Don’t forget the failure drills. You shouldn’t need to think about what to do if your weapon fails, you just do it.

  10. I have often thought that the best pistol to have with you, regardless of caliber, is the pistol you shoot the best. If you shoot a .22 better than any other pistol, thats what you take. I'd rather have somebody beside me with a .22 who shoots it well, than somebody with a Glock .45, that couldn't hit the broad side of a barn.

  11. The air rifle features a mounted scope so you can always furry critters and the rear optic sight are also adjustable. A noise dampener is also included on the best air rifle can quiet the firing noise by 52 percent.

  12. Very good information all over this site!
    I know I'm probably the only one here that is not a Glock fan (I don't like DAO or the slow cycle rate, & find field stripping to be a pain).
    I like the 1911, and find .22's can be fussy.

    BOB's sidearm is a Colt Govt 380 with 2 extra clips. Light weight, decent capacity, easy to conceal. (Not too worried about ammo availability stateside, in times of peace, for 72 hrs)

    Keep it light, everything gets heavier the longer you carry it.

  13. Over the past 10 or so years, a fascination with post-apocalyptic situations has taken the United States by storm. Zombie novel, after deadly virus movie, after cheap zombie show, people are entranced by the possibility of the world ending as we know it. Of course, we know that one day the world will have similar problems to those faced in made up movie or shows, but that day most likely will be seen by our descendants.