By Sam Hoober, GunBelts.com
Picking a concealed carry gun can seem a little daunting for anyone who has decided to join the ranks of concealed carriers. In previous eras, there were few choices beyond a snub-nose revolver, which are still certainly available and not bad choices in the least. However, the modern concealed carrier is absolutely spoiled for choice, as the market is absolutely saturated with choices.
Ask concealed carriers what they think you should get and you’ll get a host of opinions. Most of them will probably tell you to get what they carry or what they prefer, and in truth it is entirely subjective. The person shopping for their first concealed carry gun or a gun that’s better concealed than what they already have will have to figure out what they are looking for in a concealed carry pistol.
What, then, to look for?
Consider that you will be carrying this pistol all day. While carrying a pistol is hardly a Sisyphean task, it’s an extra few pounds that you will be carting around all day. Make sure that the pistol or pistols you’re looking to carry is not going to make carrying it a chore.
Take how you plan to carry into account. The most popular carrying method is on the waistband, so there’s a good chance this pistol will be making contact with your body at some point. Therefore, you may want to select a pistol that doesn’t have many sharp points. Granted, this can be countered by selecting a holster that covers any sharp points.
Safety features are also a worthy consideration. Many of the most popular concealed carry guns are striker-fired pistols that only have an integrated trigger safety. After the pistol is cocked, a trigger pull is all that’s needed for it to go off. This is enough for some people, but not for others. Some prefer to have a manual safety and carry with it engaged.
Carrying with the safety on requires the safety be deactivated if the pistol has to be drawn. If you’re going to carry in this manner, the safety should be easily reachable and easily actuated.
Caliber is another consideration. Every pistol caliber has its own benefits and drawbacks and endless discussion goes on about what caliber is best, but what it really comes down to is what caliber that you can shoot easily and accurately.
Bear in mind that calibers behave differently in compact pistols. A 9mm round or .38 Special in a full-size pistol is a breeze to shoot; in a compact, the recoil can have a bit more “snap.” In a full-size 1911, .45 ACP is a totally manageable round. In a compact gun, it may be more than some people can handle.
Therefore, you should try before you buy, to see if you can actually use the gun that you want to carry. Some gun stores, especially those with an indoor range, allow rentals for exactly this purpose. If you don’t have confidence in your ability to shoot a firearm, you subconsciously aren’t going to want to carry it. A lack of confidence in a carry gun and carry gear will eventually lead to finding reasons not to carry, and selective carrying defeats the purpose of carrying in the first place.
Another factor to consider is price. An aspect of self-defense that most people overlook is that your gun may be confiscated if you ever have to shoot someone in self-defense. A lot of people have been watching television their entire lives, and don’t comprehend that some sort of justification is going to be needed if you ever shoot someone in self-defense. One’s pistol may be confiscated as evidence. If it is returned – and that’s a BIG if – it may have been ruined by rough treatment in evidence storage. Therefore, consider not parting with more than you’d be comfortable losing.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for GunBelts.com, a subsidiary of Hayden-based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips.