Recently, Regis Giles posed the question to followers of her Girls Just Wanna Have Guns page on Facebook, “What is your go to handgun?” If you are a gun lover, you understand how simple and complex that question can be at the same time. It’s like asking a parent which of their children is their favorite. Sure, you love them all, but each has personality traits that make them unique and a better partner for certain activities.
I have a friend who owns hundreds of handguns, shotguns, and rifles. He likes to say that he has an obligation to take in “orphaned guns” and give them a good home. Ask him a question about any gun in his arsenal and he can tell you about it. He knows each gun’s make, model, purchase price, accessories, and location. He keeps them in good repair, cleaned, oiled, inventoried, and securely stored. But the thing that amazes me is that he can also tell you the firing quirks or “personality” of each weapon. Hundreds of guns! Yet, he knows each one intimately and knows which gun will best suit his needs, whether that shooting activity is hunting, target practice, competitions, or carrying for personal protection.
Back in the early days of my personal renaissance, I took an NRA pistol course just to satisfy my lifelong curiosity and fascination with guns. I was smitten. Over the next couple of years, I practiced and became comfortable with handling handguns and attended some outdoor seminars where I was able to try some different guns and talk to knowledgeable people. At the same time, I was branching out personally – going more places and doing more things. The kids were grown and my husband was beginning to travel for work and I was frequently home alone. My state passed a concealed carry law and I started thinking that I wanted to carry for personal protection. I had no idea what handgun would be right for me. After shopping around and ending up confused, I consulted the friend that I mentioned before. He recommended the gun that I eventually bought.
What makes a “go to” gun? That would depend upon what you want to achieve with the weapon. When I target shoot for practice, I like my .22 Ruger Mark III because the ammo is cheap and because its low recoil doesn’t lead to hand fatigue, allowing me to practice longer than I could with a bigger caliber gun. I don’t carry that gun for personal protection because she doesn’t have enough stopping power, but when I go out to the lake alone to walk or ride my bike, I wear a .22 mini-revolver attached to a necklace that I tuck under my shirt and down between “the ladies”. I can’t conceal a larger gun under spandex workout clothes, I don’t carry a purse while exercising, and carrying the .22 is better than not being armed at all. At one time, I carried a .40 caliber, 15 shot, semi-automatic in my purse for personal protection, but recently, I haven’t been performing well with that weapon and I’ve found that for day to day carrying, I don’t like that much weight in my handbag.
The question was “What is your go to handgun?” For me, the answer is my .38 Special. She is a Taurus Model 85 five-shot revolver with a two-and-a-half inch barrel. I’ve changed her grips, so she is comfortable in my hand. She is as accurate as I can make her, fairly concealable and meets my minimum requirement for stopping power. I maximize that stopping potential by buying ammunition designed for personal protection. She is a revolver, so there isn’t a whole lot that can malfunction on her. She’s not flashy, she’s functional, like me. I own several handguns, but she is the very first handgun that I bought for myself.
You may have noticed that I refer to my guns as females. I have a habit of anthropomorphizing things like guns and cars; a quirky habit that I have held since childhood. Once I had purchased my new handgun, I quickly decided that I needed to name her, as after I had obtained my concealed carry permit, she would be my steady companion. I thought about it for a day or two and then named her “Bessie”. I thought “Bessie” sounded a bit old fashioned and was fitting for a revolver. When I told my eldest daughter what I had named my gun, she chastised me. She said that I wasn’t supposed to give my gun a girl’s name. She said that in the Army, they cross-gendered their weapon because it was supposed to be their “other half”. I just replied that I would not change Bessie’s name because I absolutely couldn’t picture this gun as a male. It only has a two and a half inch barrel; if it were a man, it would have to wear gold chains and drive a sports car to compensate for that kind of barrel length! I have continued in that same vein, giving all of my handguns and my truck female monikers. I like grabbing my guns, heading for the truck, and hollering to my husband as I’m headed out the door that I’m “going out with the girls tonight”!
So, there you have it. Bessie is my go to gun. I feel comfortable with her. I shoot well with her. She is dependable and light. She is my constant companion to whom I have entrusted my life. I just hope my other guns aren’t jealous now that they know that Bessie is my favorite.