Gun Digest
 

Choosing a Survival Pistol: Applying the Five Principles

In this survival guide blog from Scott Wagner, choosing a survival pistol is covered. What makes for a good survival handgun? The author picks the Beretta 92FS.

The Beretta 92FS gets the author's seal of approval as a survival pistol. Image by BerettaUSA.com

Let me put the five principles from my previous post together in making a decision concerning a pistol. Clearly, I am examining only one selection, because there are MANY pistols available that would work in this role, which I will discuss in the future. The pistol I am going to examine is my all-time favorite combat pistol: The Beretta 92FS. This is known to the military as the M9 or M9A1.

There is no questioning the reliability of the original Beretta 92FS. It has been given the ultimate field test since 1985 as our Armed Force’s standard issue pistol, and the M9 and has passed with flying colors. The latest rendition purchased by the military is the mildly modified M9A1, which has a light rail on the frame.

Click the image to download Beretta exploded gun drawings.

With smoothness of operation rivaled only by custom pistols, the 92 was for much of the 1980s and into the 1990s second only to Smith and Wesson autopistol designs in terms of police service use. That dominance changed with the advent of the Glock design and its widespread acceptance for police use due its somewhat simpler design. But the 92 just runs and runs and runs.

In terms of ruggedness, the same qualities that make it reliable bolster its ruggedness. Its design has stood up to the worst environmental conditions on earth, and the worst neglect possible by men in combat. It would not still be going strong some 27 years after it was adopted if it wasn’t rugged.

Portability is less of an issue when discussing defensive handguns then it is when talking long guns. While the 92 may not be the best choice for deep cover carry, it still can be done. I know because I have done it. There are many ways to carry the 92 concealed. Backpack, sling pack, fanny pack or IWB holster work well just to name a few.

I mentioned simplicity of operation as a factor earlier. This is an area where the 92 gives up some ground to designs such as the Glock. There is a manual safety/decocker, and the standard DA/SA trigger requires transition practice. While some find this a problem, I haven’t, as the first duty auto’s I carried in my law enforcement career were the early Smith and Wesson series with the same design, starting with the elegant Model 39.  Training and practice will overcome any such concern when using a DA/SA auto.

Finally, we come to effectiveness. Yes, clearly the 9mm in FMJ bullet profiles is not as effective as the .45 in the same configuration in terms of raw potential to stop a determined assailant.

However, the 92 carries more rounds in the magazine vs. the .45. That's 15 per magazine rather than seven or eight. Get proper hits with all those smaller bullets and you will be effective.

Keep in mind, too, that all pistol calibers fail. The much-vaunted .40 S&W can claim quite a few rather spectacular failures. If you need close-range protection from large amounts of people, warding them off from my position, be it in the open, in a structure, or in a vehicle, I want to put as much ammo downrange.

The high capacity of a 9mm Beretta 92 will allow me to do just that.

What type of survival pistol are you choosing? Leave a comment below.

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