Automatics, or semi automatics, aka pistols, are the more modern and currently more popular of the handgun realm. An automatic is not fully automatic, but is an automatic self-loading weapon. These weapons feed from magazines most commonly inserted into the grip on the pistol. Automatics come in a wide variety of different calibers, but the so called big three is what you should look into. The big three refers to the 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP. These calibers are by far the common, available, and affordable of pistol calibers in the United States.
All three calibers are plenty capable and the choice of any three should be based on what the shooter is most comfortable and reliable with. More important than caliber size when it comes to shooting is shot placement. I tell my students that the human heart doesn’t know the difference between a 9mm and a 45 ACP. Second to shot placement is penetration, the caliber needs to be able to hit at what you’re aiming at.
The FBI’s ballistic test to determine if a caliber is significantly lethal is its ability to penetrate 12 inches of ballistic gel. The big three are all capable of doing so. This is why I suggest sticking with the big three over less powerful calibers like the 380. The big three typically features tamable recoil in duty sized weapons and is plenty controllable for most people.
Automatics are going to require multiple magazines to keep them fed, and keep in the fight. So when choosing your weapon insure magazines are available and affordable. As I mentioned my P09 by CZ is my favorite handgun, however magazines are not common locally and are often in the mid 40-dollar range. However a Glock 17 magazine could be found for around 25 dollars and are plentiful at any gun store.
Examples of Modern Autos
GLOCKS – Available in nearly any caliber you could desire Glocks have taken over the mainstream pistol market, including numerous police and foreign military contracts. The Glock is reportedly a favorite of some American special forces.
SIG SAUER P SERIES – The SIG SAUER P series is an extremely famous design used around the world, including use with U.S. Navy SEALS. The P series are Double action/Single action designs, all steel with an exposed hammer, and decocker.