Phteve’s Handgun Selection Tool

Shopping for a new handgun is often a chore for those familiar with the market, and downright bewildering for those just being introduced to it. What should I buy, a striker-fired, hammer fired, DA/SA, SAO, DAO, semiautomatic, or revolver? Caliber? Is 9mm good enough, or do I need something with a “4”?

There isn’t an easy way out (well, besides “get a Glock”) for most people, but there is a market for a tool that at least makes the options clearer. That’s the niche that Redditor Phteven_j seeks to fill with his Handgun Selector, which automatically brings up a selection of handguns meeting the criteria entered in by the user, with their makes, models, calibers, pictures, and other details.


Phteven’s Handgun Selector generates lists of handguns based on the user’s inputs, in this case for compact semiautomatics under $1000.


An excellent feature of the Selector is that clicking on the price hyperlinks one to a GunBroker search for handguns of that make. The Handgun Selector does not appear to be totally finished: Notably missing were some of the more recent firearms, such as the Kimber K6S revolver, Walther PPS-M2, and Ruger American. However, Phteven included a function for users to submit handguns that may be missing from the database, so hopefully the more users the Selector gets, the more complete it will be.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Christopher Armour

    It’s neat, but seems incomplete. I tried several combos an noticed missing firearms. For instance, a Semi, 9mm, SA, and there were no CZ’s, and no Sig P226. There were a couple other configs I tried too, all with missing firearms.

    • Nick

      Well, if by SA you mean SAO the Sig P226 wouldn’t have been included because it’s actually a SA/DA.

      I don’t know enough about the CZ to comment though.

      • iksnilol

        There are SAO CZs, wouldn’t surprise me there’s SAO P226s.

      • Christopher Armour

        I specifically said SA because the tool doesn’t give an option for SAO, only SA, which is odd, because DAO is an option. The tool needs some work.

        • Kefefs

          “…the tool doesn’t give an option for SAO, only SA”

          SA and SAO mean the same thing, whereas DA and DAO do not. “DA” usually means DA/SA.

          • Christopher Armour

            Yes, but there’s already a DA/SA option on the tool along with Double Action. See the problem now? It needs refining to only have the options SAO, DA/SA, DAO, and Striker. These are the four major action types, and would cover pretty much any current production semiautomatic pistol. He could have an Any/Other category to cover obscure designs.

  • Joe

    I feel it could use ergonomic metrics.
    Grip circumference and trigger reach stats would help fit the gun to the hand of the individual end user.
    Adding the degree of grip angle would also be useful.
    I wish there was a way to take a scan of your hand and use that to establish a range of grip girth and trigger reach suitable to that hand.
    This way the individual can narrow the search to the models within the established range, preventing an non-ergonomic purchase.
    For example, I bought a police surplus SIG P228 DAO, converted it to SA/DA, dropped in new springs, short trigger, and E2 Grip.
    It didn’t fit my hand even after all that work, and I traded it for a Bersa BP9CC that I fell in love with.
    I’d love to have another SIG, but a P226 SAO is the only ergonomic solution that would work for me, and I can’t afford what they ask for one.

    • Bill

      I agree. Handgun fit is arguably the most important factor in usability and suitability. Unfortunately, it’s hard to quantify without actually handling the different guns. It’s like comparing trigger press weight and actual trigger “feel” or quality.

  • Anonymoose

    This may help you narrow things down, but range rentals are really the best way to choose any gun.

    • BattleshipGrey

      I absolutely agree, but some areas don’t have that option. I think my nearest option is about 2 hours away, but otherwise it’d be a surrounding state.

    • Paul White

      I mean I agree in theory but htere’s literally *one* gun range here that rents guns (at awful prices), and they only have glocks and rugers

  • Hinermad

    Making the selection criteria into links to online help along the lines of “what does this mean?” would make it a lot more new shooter friendly. For example, a new guy probably wouldn’t know what the difference is between hammer fired and striker fired pistol, and why it matters.

  • IshTheBuddha

    An option to filter for single stack and double stack magazines would be nice.

  • Hamma Hamma

    Is anyone else feeling an inordinate amount of mental hangup trying to pronounce “Phteve?”

    • Hinermad

      No, but I’ve sprayed my monitor a couple of times attempting it.

  • Phil Hsueh

    They need to add a state availability/legality option as well. This way somebody new to handguns in CA will be able to see just what their (very limited) selections are. I’d imagine that it would be very disappointing for someone to go through the list and inputting all their criteria, picking a gun they like and go to their local gun store only to find that it’s off roster. Of course, it would probably be equally disappointing to do so online, select CA legal, and watch your choices dwindle down to next to nothing.

  • Bal256

    I like the name…

    • Xeno Da Morph


  • Tulpa Doom

    Not to throw water on the parade, but many online gun stores have almost exactly the same type of filter capability already. What would be very useful would be the ability to filter by characteristics that stores don’t usually offer searches on: such as recoil factor, grip cross-sectional diameter, length, and aspect ratio, accessory availability, and as another poster mentioned, legality in various states. That would be harder because it would require some research, but it could be an amazing tool.

  • bimmerland

    Will there be a selection for barrel lengths. For example single action cowboy guns.