The Pistol – A Survivor’s Best Friend

by Sawbo

When considering a sidearm today there is an almost infinite number of possibilities. For a wise prepper and future survivor of TEOTWAWKI there is only three: The Colt 1911 chambered in .45 ACP, The Glock 23 chambered in .40 Smith and Wesson, and The Beretta M9/92 Series chambered in 9mm.

How have I come to the conclusion and why should you listen to what I have to say? I served in 101st Airborne Division and I am a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After my time in the military I continued working in austere environments as an independent contractor.

have extensive experience in the private security sector and I am a firearms collector and enthusiast. I own and carry each of these firearms. I have carried them both at home and in combat environments.

These pistols are ideal TEOTWAWKI sidearms for multiple reasons. The most important two is their proven reliability and availability.

Each has at some point been adopted as the standard issue service pistol for military and government use all around the world. They are battle tested mass produced weapons.

The 1911 was the sidearm of choice for the US Armed Forces until the mid-late 1980’s when it was replaced by the Beretta M9 and the M9 is still throwing rounds at the enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan today. The Glock can currently be found on the hips of nearly all US Law Enforcement Officers and Government Agents.

Currently, they can be all found on the shelves of every gun shop in America and in a TEOTWAWKI situation the mass production and issuance of these weapons means that the parts, magazines, accessories, and the weapons themselves will be more readily available than any other on the market today.

Another advantage to these weapons is their common calibers. These common calibers are easy to come by now and inexpensive when compared to some of the more exotic calibers available today.

Scroungers after TEOTWAWKI will be more likely to find ammunition and reloading supplies and traders will be more likely to have these in their inventory.

If you choose to purchase one or all of these pistols you will need only one primary.

For my primary I chose the Glock 23. I carried a Glock both as my primary and as a backup weapon many times in my work overseas. I have fired thousands of rounds through them with little or no issues.

The 23 has good ammo capacity utilizing the 13, 15, or 17 round factory magazines and fires the .40 caliber round.

The 1911 comes in close second in my book. I love the feel, the reliability, and the caliber. The only reason I choose the 23 over the 1911 is the ammo capacity. No shooter in the world can reload faster than he can squeeze off another round. The Glock doubles my ability to shoot and halves my reloads.

The Beretta is my last choice out of the three. In my experience it is the least accurate and reliable. I am also not a fan of the caliber.

A friend of mine is a now retired law enforcement officer. In the early 90’s his department was replacing their 1911’s with the Beretta. He shot a perpetrator in the right hip with the 9mm. The guy barely missed a step and kept right on running.

After this incident his department went back to the 1911’s and then later to the Glocks. The 9mm is a decent round but if I have to pull that trigger I want to know that it is going to drop my target. For these reasons I have chosen to use the Glock as my primary pistol.

Stockpiling ammunition now is large priority for any prepper. Should you choose to purchase one of these weapons stockpiling ammunition should not be difficult, but should you decide to add all three to your collection you may have issues with the funds required to stock 3 different calibers of ammunition.

The way that I personally handle the issue is to keep a large quantity of ammunition on hand for my primary pistol, the Glock 23, and for the other calibers I keep only 1/3 the amount.

With this I have a means to arm myself, arm my family members, and reliable weapons that take three common calibers which I should have less trouble resupplying in a TEOTWAWKI scenario.

I will not give a count of how many rounds you should keep on hand. There are many opinions on this matter. Check your local laws and stay within your economic means.

Most importantly, don’t forget the magazines. 1,000 rounds won’t do you a bit of good in a fire fight if you only have one seven round magazine.

This may sound like common sense to many readers but on several occasions I have spoken with preppers who had a decent amount of ammunition purchased but only the 1 or 2 magazines that came with their firearm. How many magazines you should have is another area of debate.

I will tell you this. In a combat environment when I was using my pistol only as a back up and I had another primary weapon such as an M4 or M249 Machine Gun I carried 3-4 magazines. Later as an operator I often worked as an escort or courier carrying only my pistol. These times I would carry a minimum of five 15 or 17 round magazines.

Now while you are out picking out your new Glock, 1911, or Beretta with extra magazines make sure you pick up an armorer’s manual as well. A good gunsmith is hard to find today. You can bet that after TEOTWAWKI you will have to rely on your own ability to make repairs or upgrades.

One last piece of advice from an old operator, “Remember your pistol is meant for one thing. Getting to your long gun”.

20 survival items ebook cover
Like what you read?

Then you're gonna love my free PDF, 20 common survival items, 20 uncommon survival uses for each. That's 400 total uses for these dirt-cheap little items!

We will not spam you.

15 thoughts on “The Pistol – A Survivor’s Best Friend”

  1. I always enjoy reading first hand accounts of various weapons and the operators opinion of them. This is generally, a no BS assessment of a weapon they have used during combat, whether that’s a solider or cop.

  2. Nice article .. simple straight forward.. Well done.. Cannot argue with … mo bullets be mo better..
    either in the gun, magazines or stockpiled.

    Some folks might not know a standard 1911 works fine with 10 round magazines from Wilson Combat or everyone’s favorite Chip McCormick.. So that make 11 rounds on board which ain’t bad.

    One additional reason for keeping the collector aspect out of things (many types of guns).

    Stress, sleep deprivation, hunger, dehydration, cold, heat all these things affect performance.. The less one has to remember the better they will perform the tasks they know with fewer errors.

    Again great article.


  3. I agree with all that and would like to add a small tidbit. Another great pistol yet seldom mentioned is the Sig Sauer P220 .45 ACP. The difference between that and the 1911 is it’s double/single action; meaning that you have first round capability while holstered and can draw and shoot without cocking the hammer. I am an OIF veteran, retired infantryman with 22 years of service and I am also a police academy graduate. I have learned that the Sig is one of the best, most reliable and very accurate handgun you can get. It is a little pricey, however, you definitely get what you pay for! I have a CCDW and carry this gun around with me ALL the time. Lastly, practice, practice and practice. Think of a worst case scenerio or several of them and start training for them.
    Thunder 7

  4. Sawbo, I like how you think. I know a rather large cadre of “operator” types that favor Glock 17. Their school of thought is more rounds to put downrange. I do like my G19 for that reason and the fact that it dosen’t pull my pants down. However; my favored carry is G21 or for concealed work G30. .45… because they don’t make a 46…

  5. Good post.

    Back in the old days when I wore Army Green we carried Beretta 9’s. They were very reliable and easy to service, but I had a couple of instances where a 9mm just didn’t end the contest as quickly as I would have wished.

    I now carry a .45 as does all of my family. I prefer a 1911 style (Kimber Custom TLE II, though I have several others). Sons favor the Springfield XD’s – old school, new school thing I guess. When I hit a 300 pound piggie with a .45 they usually don’t come back for seconds.

    One little item I learned over the years – when it’s dark and you’re crawling through the cold swamp water having any form of external hammer is a really good thing. Little buttons and studs which are often used as loaded weapon indicators can be very hard to find under extreme conditions. Even if your hands and fingers are numb, a large external hammer is fairly easy to locate. Maybe you keep a round locked and cocked, but does every member of your team? Did they just reload and not operate the slide before they went down leaving a loaded pistol with an empty chamber? Keep in mind that when you really need your pistol the circumstances will probably not emulate all that practice you put in at the range.

    Merry Christmas all! Forget Santa, vacuum pack those cookies and add them to your BOB.

  6. Wow! I don’t even know where to start…….

    This was wayyyyyyy too simplistic. Without getting into, yet another, which gun is best argument, there are simply dozens and dozens of modern firearms that qualify. The three selected appear to be more of what a former military person with limited handgun experience would select (A common misconception is that former military have a large amount of experience with firearms. Untrue. A significant number, approaching the majority, have virtually no firearms experience outside of a brief boot camp experience, the exception being the Corps where every Marine is a rifleman first. In addition, very few at all have experience with sidearms, as rifles/carbines are what is primarily used).

    While I personally dislike shooting the Glock (just doesn’t fit me….bad grip angle), it is generally an excellent choice for TEOTWAWKI. It is simple, reliable when maintained, cost effective, and generally spare parts & accessories are available. However, limiting it to a single caliber (.40 S&W) makes no sense. Especially since far more in 9mm have been produced. The are two things to be cautious of in terms of reliability. Almost any Glock caliber would be fine, the exceptions would be .357 SIG and .45 GAP as ammo in any significant quantity is hard to obtain.

    First, their magazines are terrible for Bug Out Bags (BOBs). Their springs take a set when kept fully loaded for any length of time unless the springs are replaced with better aftermarket ones. A Glock stored in a BOB for a length of time, quickly becomes a single shot repeater when you have to cycle the slide to load it. They are not military 7rd 1911 magazines in a slow recoiling .45ACP, which have often worked decades after being stored loaded (The 8 rounders do not fair as well for long term).

    BOB firearms are NOT the same as EDC (Every Day Carry) firearms. EDC firearms are typically maintained far better and (hopefully) used more often. This gives the carrier an opportunity to experience when the firearm needs maintenance, whereas the BOB gun is generally thought of as “stored and unused” so it “still must be good cuz that’s how I last left it.”

    While the 1911 fans (myself included) may argue, generally…….GENERALLY……I said, GENERALLY…. newer 1911’s are seldom reliable without one of two things occurring, either an experienced gunsmith tuning it, or spending generally in excess of $1000 (and often closer to $2000) for it. There are a number of excellent .45 ACP firearms (Glock, SIG, Springfield XD, etc that will not set you back as far.)

    1911s are not made the same as they were in the past. The public now wants a 1911 that shoots 1/8 inch MOA at 400 yards. The trade off in “tightening up” the slide and firearm and slapping in match barrels is that reliability often suffers. Old 1911 rattled when you shook them. They rattled for a reason. The tolerances where loose enough that if it got dinged and dirty, it still went BANG when you pulled the trigger. A 3″ to 5″ pattern, which all but the worst were capable of, is just fine for defensive work, and it has been my experience that the firearms (even loose ones) are often far more accurate that the capabilities of the shooter.

    .45 ACP for a BOB is generally not a great choice unless you’re built like a tank. The ammo is any quantity is DANG heavy and the added weight means that you could be leaving something else behind. While on duty, I carry a minimum of 4 extra magazines for a 1911 (40-41 rounds total), and that is no where near enough for BOB consideration….that’s just a good start. For duty use, there are additional rounds nearby (vehicle). For military use, the .45 ACP was a secondary firearm, plus the military has a great re-supply organization. Counting on airdropping additional ammunition is probably not going to be a viable option for your BOB. .45 ACP is generally best for those fighting from a fixed position where ammunition supplies are not as dependent in terms of having them on your person.

    Lastly, the Beretta 92 is a terrible choice, especially when given the choices of the previous two for a battery. Even by your own admission,

    “The Beretta is my last choice out of the three. In my experience it is the least accurate and reliable. ”

    The Beretta has a great reputation for being a poor choice. Slides crack. Magazines fail with appalling regularity. Grips large and uncomfortable for most shooters. With the exception of the military (who upon selecting it, immediately began searching for a replacement) and a few (fewer and fewer) police departments, nobody really carries them, thus not a lot of “field” spare parts out there.

    Additionally, as a firearms battery choice, the operating system for all three completely different that the other two. Try remembering where the safety is, and which way it moves when under fire. What is the trigger going to be like. Can you switch from DA/SA to SA Only to mushy striker fired? Pick one and stay with it!

    In terms of TEOTWAWKI firearms, when maintaining a battery, a significant issue is carrying and maintaining it. As such, firearms of the same family often are often a wise consideration. If you want firearms in all three calibers (9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP), picking up a Glock in each caliber is a good start. The 9mms and .40’s will be able to use the same holsters and in a pinch, the same magazines. A lot of the smaller parts also interchange. Moving up to the .45 ACP loses the carry and spare parts argument, but at least the operating system is the same. The Springfield XD’s or XDm’s allow for you to carry all three calibers in the same holsters (Safariland ALS holsters being the known exception). Many manufacturers have “families” that allow some or all of these considerations.

    While I prefer a .40 S&W, I have no problems carrying a 9mm with modern quality ammunition. The story of the LEO shooting the BG is rife with questions. Shooting anyone in the hip is a poor choice, and you should not be expecting him to stop based upon such poor accuracy. Unless the actual bones are hit (in the hip), you’re probably just hitting meat and there aren’t any body stopping organs located there. Additionally, the 9mm ammunition selection of the early 90’s was poor to say the least. MUCH better 9mm defensive ammunition is available today. Yes, 9mm FMJ is a poor excuse for anything except target practice, but you shouldn’t be carrying it unless you’re just shooting paper or are required to due to obscure International agreements. Additionally, if the whole department changed firearms/calibers due to one shooting based upon poor shot placement, they had a whole bunch of problems to start off with, starting with their firearms evaluation and selection methods.

    Lastly, I am sad to see that no revolver was mentioned. Modern revolvers are excellent choices for TEOTWAWKI. While not my favorite for EDC or CCW, they really come into their own in TEOTWAWKI. Modern revolvers can carry up to 8 rounds (same as a 1911), in stouter calibers. They:

    require almost no maintenance (when compared to automatics).

    are not dependent on magazines (speedloaders are nice, but if you loose your magazines a revolver shooter can still shoot back, especially if your automatic has a “magazine disconnect safety” on it). While they can be slower to reload than an automatic, not only will practice make you faster and more competent, I actually have NOT seen a lot of people that can do a fast and sure reload of an automatic under pressure (and that includes LEOs!!!) Anyone who has ever seen Jerry Miculek reload, will never again say that you can’t reload a revolver fast enough!

    are ULTRA reliable and can work with poorer quality ammunition, or ammunition is a variety of weights and bullet-types. Selecting one in a Magnum caliber generally means that you have multiple calibers to choose from (.38 spl/.357 Mag, .44spl/Mag).
    are simple to operate, have the same trigger pull every time, yet can allow you to select a lighter trigger pull for those “special shots.”

    are less susceptible to dirt and debris.

    are not affected in States where more than 10rds mean that you’re evil.

    And finally, they can be stored, fully loaded, virtually forever with no side effects (actually the ammunition is more likely to notwork than the firearm).

    Oops….that dang soap box again! How’d I get up here!?!
    Sorry, just my two cents.

  7. Sawbo, no disagreements. I do have a few points to add though. Most problems people have with firearms are due to lack of training. If you are not going to train extensively, get a Glock. Point and shoot. No external controls to manipulate. Glocks are the “revolver” of semi-auto pistols.
    dj. A 1911, cocked and locked gives “first shot” availabilty also. (and why would you not carry cocked and locked?) To training again, with proper practice, your ‘safety thumb’ and trigger finger will work as one unit. Without thinking about it when your finger is on the trigger, the safety is off. When the finger comes off the trigger, the safety is on.
    My thoughts on calliber. ?????? Without knowing the details, the LEO who shoot the perp in the hip, maybe a few inches over and affecting the pelvic girdle more might have dropped him. And a .45 hitting in the same spot might not have made much difference. (hard to say from here) Bottom line; get the biggest gun in the largest calliber that you can handle and will carry. A 500S&W in the desk drawer is not as good as a .380 in your pocket when you need it.
    My daily carry is a Glock19. Does not print like a full size. Has decent ammo capacity. And it is light. After carrying all day in an IWB I don’t even know it is there. In a TEOTWAWKI situation I will have a full size 1911 in an open carry holster.
    Whatever you decide on, train with it. Train on the ‘ugly’ stuff. Can you clear a type III malfunction (double feed/brass low) with your support hand only? Can you shoot supine, over your head, support hand only? As dj said, “Think of a worst case scenerio or several of them and start training for them”.
    I’m big on safety. Get some professional training on how to do the ‘ugly’ stuff safely and effeciently first, then train, train, train.
    Good luck and May God Bless

  8. A wise prepper and future survivor knows the gun you have is better than the gun you don’t. While I agree that the 1911 and Glock lines are great guns, they are not required for post-apocalyptic success. Meanwhile, there’s nothing special about the Beretta except its military use. That was and is a marginal choice of service pistol.

    I have a couple 1911s, and I would definitely trust them. I’ve shot a lot of Glocks but never liked the fit to my hand (one of the most important but oft overlooked aspects of shooting a gun). I would trust a Glock, though. There are plenty of great guns, and I must disagree with your assessment of a holy trinity.

    Regarding parts availability, yes, it’s important, but where do you think you can go buy parts after TEOTWAKI? If that much scheisse hits the fan, you’ll most likely find parts via scavenging. So why not just scavenge a whole gun? I don’t think Joe Dead Body is likely to be carrying just a recoil spring and firing pin. The advantage is that 1911s and Glocks are common thus (relatively) easily found.

    Also, the 9×19 is more than sufficient if you’re willing to stock up on expensive hollow point rounds. Obviously, if you’re going to store much more viable FMJ, .45 is hard to beat; 9×19 FMJ consistently overpenetrates.

    Anyway, I ranted longer than I was going to, but my point is that there are exceptional and acceptable guns beyond those mentioned. If someone is on a very tight budget and they already have, say, an XD, FNP, or similar, they shouldn’t feel obligated to run out and drop $500 on a Glock. Especially if that money would be better spent on other preps or paying down debt.

  9. BTW since you mentioned you want consistent threat stopping performance in your pistol caliber, I’m curious what your opinion is on the 5.56 NATO. Also, despite my vehement disagreeing with you, your post was well-written and made good points.

  10. Nice article, thank you for writing it. Another great point about the Glock 23 is getting a Lonewolf 9mm barrel insert and a few 9mm magazines so if one runs out of 40cal, can switch over to the 9mm (or 357Sig with proper barrel) without having to switch to a entire different gun. I’ve been running a Lonewolf barrel insert in our G23’s for 3 years now and not a single malfunction that wasn’t magazine related and I shoot at least 50rds monthly. For the naysayers who have read on the internet the Lonewolf barrels don’t work or one needs to change out other parts (other then magazines) is pure B.S. I personally know and shoot with two others who have done this & put far more rounds downrange then I do.

  11. I always laugh about the caliber debate. Just about every cop worth his weight since forever has carried 380auto a .32 or some small other type snubby or derringer for backup weapon. If it can stop a BG when primary fails why wouldn’t any of modern calibers stop a threat. Yes bigger is better but small is not bad. Hell in a shtf event a .22lr flesh wound may prove mortal. Stock up on any and everything!!!!!!!!

  12. Nice article. I have a friend who told me today that he is looking to get a gun for concealed carry. I showed him this article to give him some more ideas. I’m sure it will help. Thanks a lot, and great job!

    I carry a Glock 17 every day. I have not needed to yet, but I feel confident I could stop a threat with the 9mm. After I read this article I felt I had to go outside and put a few rounds through it. Being full size, it’s very accurate and hopefully holds more rounds than I need. Also, 9mm target ammo is reasonably priced and I can afford to practice with it as often as I like.
    That being said, I have shot the 23 and it is a very nice gun. In the end (TEOTWAWKI), we’re only trying to make it to our rifles.
    If I could only have one gun in TEOTWAWKI or SHTF, I would probably instinctively grab my Ruger 10/22.

  13. I have to agree that the list of TEOTWAWKI guns is a little narrow. In fact as another reader commented police & military tend to have less exposure to the weapons available there weapons often being selected by bureaucrats. I love my glock and my 1911, BUT I think the premise of the article is wrong headed. The question you should be asking is about ammo nor platform. Personally, I carry a 357 revolver but have a few g22s as emergency situation weapons, because they are virtually indestructible. My thought is however that if my glockS ALL fail with the number of 40cal weapons out there in a WROL I will be able to pick up another 40cal gun–most likely another 22. The most important consideration though is not what gun but which calibers so that what ever gun you find you have plenty of ammo stored and plenty available if you run out. In that regard 9mm, 40, & 45 are clearly the most abundant handgun calibers just as 5.56 and 7.62×39 are clear winners in rifle calibers.

    It’s not stopping power of a caliber, or the accuracy of the gun that I worry abOut but the availability of the ammo:

  14. The more I think about it the more I ask myself.

    Is a TEOTWAWKI really the most likely scenario or something more akin to Argentina.. Things just winding down.. breaking down bit by bit. I think the latter, In either case there will be weapons laying around everywhere.. As long as there is a man with a file.. there will be weapons.

    So in reality, which weapon we have now is probably less relevant than how much ammo and what types.

    I can make cases.. even rudimentary powder.. but primers.. that’s as of now remains another matter entirely.

    I am thinking ammo…22, 9mm. .223, .308 and 12 Ga are probably going to be the most valuable.

    What foods do we have to trade? How much.. (how much do you trade and still not give away the fact that you have something worth stealing.?)…

    Developing a network of people who already or are in the process of having/squiring sufficient resources to care for themselves. Is probably more important than the weapons we select or possess.

    Perhaps we should deal first and foremost with the fact that our homes for the most part are flammable and indefensible..

    Ask yourself … if the house burnt down..where would I be.. equipment and material wise? If the answer is… “in the Crapper” that needs fixing before buying another 3000 Series Mega Blaster.

    What if the wife comes home and says she is in love with “Jody”?

    What if someone needs antibiotics.. or medical care.. (guaranteed scenario).

    We can drive ourselves off the deep end contemplating .. “the end” (pun intended).

    The Hawaiian saying “Hang Loose” probably is the best advice any of us can receive.

    More than our Hardware or even supplies.. (not saying we should not be Ants and lay up for bad times.)
    but more than the optimal weapons selection we need the ability to relax… to “hang loose”. To be able to perceptive reality not thru rose colored or dark glasses but as it really is. Then with that perception do that which is prudent.. and accept imperfection in our solutions.

    Just a thought or two about the whole mess.


    • Vic –

      Good thoughts.

      “Jody” huh? That’s an interesting one.

      I tend to agree that what is likely is an Argentina-like event.

      Take care – Rourke


Leave a Comment