By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
Is there a correct amount of money to spend on a carry gun? There’s more that goes into gun ownership than the mere price of purchase. As with any item, there’s a cost of ownership that’s above and beyond just the amount of money you pay to make the purchase.
For instance, anyone who thinks the cost of homeownership is merely a mortgage payment, is a fool.
There are a number of aspects that go into how much you should ideally spend on a carry gun. Specifically:
What accessories will you need to purchase?
What improvements will you want to make?
What will you do for training and practice?
Lastly, how much can you afford to lose?
Here is what you will need to carry and use your gun: A carry belt, a concealed carry holster (I think I know somewhere people can get those things) and a good cleaning kit, which should include at a minimum; a bore brush, patches, cleaning solvent and lubricant.
Spare magazines are also a good idea, as is a magazine holster for range use and daily carry.
Ammunition is also a good idea. It’s a good idea to have at least one box of hardball practice ammunition on hand at all times and one box of higher grade carry ammo. In this area, spend on the latter, and consider getting enough ammo to break-in your pistol.
If it’s your first carry pistol, you may also want to spend some time training. As it happens, we have a fantastic concealed carry training guide at the Alien Gear blog, in case you’re interested.
If your pistol doesn’t come with one, a carrying case and a lock are also a good idea. A case may also be required for legal transport depending on the jurisdiction in which you live.
The cost for these items can add up. If this is your first carry gun, you may want to factor the need for a few ancillaries into the equation.
Just like a home, many people have a few improvements they like to make to a carry gun. One of the most popular upgrades are the sights. Night sights are one of the best investments you can make for a carry pistol, as many defensive shootings occur in low-light environments. Therefore, it pays to be able to see where you’re shooting. Some of the more popular third-party sight manufacturers – Trijicon, Novak and XS sights, will set you back $100 or more.
Laser sights, such as Crimson Trace, Viridian, LaserMax and LaserLyte, are also a very popular upgrade. Lasers make night sighting even easier, though lasers are expensive and have to be fed fresh batteries. Many laser systems run $200 or more.
Other common upgrades include higher quality magazines (ask the 1911 guys about Wilson Combat magazines) upgraded recoil springs (Wulff makes good ones) and some people swear by upgrading the trigger with trigger springs, if not a whole new trigger group in some pistols. Granted, many of these smaller upgrades are cheap, but can add up quickly.
To sum up; when you buy a carry pistol, know that you’re going to have to spend more than the mere cost of buying it. If, at minimum, all you’ll need is a holster (a few good ones go for less than $30, but expect to pay at least $40 for a decent model), a cleaning kit and some ammo. Expect about another $100 on top of what you pay for your gun at the gun store.
Let’s say you’re considering an S&W Shield. Good choice; easy to carry, shoot and conceal. The gun, a holster – if you only buy one – and a cleaning kit will probably run less than $500 out the door. However, that plus XS Sights (presuming you install them instead of a gunsmith) and a couple of Hyve magazine extensions to fit your bigger hands and now you’re looking at almost $700, and the Shield usually goes for less than $400 in most stores. That’s nearly double the cost of the pistol when you add in the gear.
Lastly, how much can you afford to lose? In the event you ever have to use your carry gun, there’s a good possibility that your gun is going to be confiscated by the police. If that happens, there’s a chance you won’t ever get it back or you will get it back damaged, possibly beyond repair. That’s why some guns are safe queens.
How much you are able to spend on a carry gun comes down to you and what you’re comfortable with using and losing. Some people, given all of these factors, would think the budget for a carry gun should be $300 or less. Some may have a bit more breathing room and go as high as $500 or $600. Then again, some people are totally fine with paying $1,000 or more on a carry pistol, before upgrades, accessories and so on and have a personal arsenal large enough that the loss of a pistol wouldn’t even make them flinch, financially anyway. That said, these are some things you should bear in mind when you decide to carry concealed.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.