Back in June, Melissa and I made our first firearm purchase when we picked up a Smith & Wesson ‘Model 620′ .357/.38Spc. 7-shot revolver. The main reason we went for a revolver over a semi-automatic handgun was that Melissa was more comfortable with revolvers, and we wanted a home defense weapon that both of us were equally comfortable with. Also, revolvers require less maintenance. Woefully neglected revolvers that have sat in drawers unused and uncleaned for years-upon-years generally still go ‘bang’ when you pick them up and pull the trigger, and even if they don’t fire the first time clearing a misfire in an emergency is as easy as pulling the trigger again.

I, however, was more interested in a semi-automatic. Yes, they need a bit more care. Yes, clearing a misfire in an emergency requires a bit more effort (forcefully pulling back the slide and releasing it, basically). But in return you get a firearm that, in roughly the same sized package, can pack 12-17 rounds as opposed to a revolver’s 5-7 and can fire those rounds quicker. The difference is most pronounced when you look at compact weapons for concealed-carry, where the semi-automatics are narrower (easier to conceal) AND pack at least twice the ammo capacity (5 for compact revolvers vs. 10+ for compact semi-autos). This will be more important to me later, after I get a concealed carry permit.

Anyway, for my upcoming birthday Melissa took me to Virginia Arms in Manassas and we picked up a Smith & Wesson M&P 9. This will allow me to get real good and familiar with semi-automatics before eventually getting a compact, concealed carry weapon. Plus, now we can both be armed if necessary.

The gun (which comes with two 17-round magazines) was designed by Smith & Wesson to compete with Glock for the police market. Most of the specs between the M&P and the Glock 17 (my second-choice) are nearly identical, but the made-in-America M&P won on ‘creature comforts’. It comes with three different-sized back-straps which allow you to easily resize the grip to fit your hand. Most importantly for me, it is equipped with an ambidextrous slide lock and reversible magazine release. If you’re right-handed these things don’t matter—all guns are made for you in their default configuration. If you’re a lefty, this means you can lock the slide back and release the magazine just like everybody else without performing impressive arm/finger contortions. It’s a miracle.

I’m hoping to take it to the range and break it in tomorrow or, worst case, some time this coming week.

Scott Bradford has been building web sites and using them to say what he thinks since 1995, which tended to get him in trouble with power-tripping assistant principals at the time. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University, but has spent most of his career (so far) working on public- and private-sector web sites. He is not a member of any political party, and brands himself an ‘independent constitutional conservative.’ In addition to holding down a day job and blogging about challenging subjects like politics, religion, and technology, Scott is also a devout Catholic, gun-owner, bike rider, and music lover with a wife, two cats, and a dog.