Concealed Carry & Home Defense

Massad Ayoob: The right carry gun

Guns and Gear Contributor
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By Massad Ayoob, GUNS Magazine

It’s human nature, I suppose. Someone finds the right automobile/political party/firearm for himself, invests his ego in the choice, and then decides to tell you what’s right for him is obviously right for you.

Internet, where one recurring meme seems to be, “If you carry more firepower than me you’re paranoid mall ninjas, and if you carry less than me, you’re pathetic sheeple.” With husbands and wives, the 6-foot male of the household says “Honey, I’ve found the best gun to carry, so here’s one just like mine, all for you!” And he gives a petite woman something too big for her hand, or her whole body, or her wardrobe. Ideal outcomes rarely ensue.

For that matter, when the individual finds a single gun that seems best suited to him or her, even that isn’t always the best for all the time, in every place or season. We don’t wear the same clothing in a New Hampshire winter we’d wear in an Arizona summer. We don’t hunt woodchucks with the same guns we’d use to hunt moose. Why use one gun for every single time we carry?

Twenty-five years ago, I was a lieutenant on a police department that adopted the S&W Model 4506 service pistol. It was an excellent weapon, and since it was the one gun I was most likely to have to use to defend my life, I committed to it. Before long, I had a battery of three carry guns that all worked exactly the same and held the same 9-shot capacity. I wore the big department issue .45 when working for the agency, and carried it in winter on my own time; (heavy cold-weather clothes easily covered its bulk), and since the same kind of clothing worn by others in the same weather could clog any hollowpoint and turn it into ball, I wanted big ball. In the summer, “off-duty” meant a Model 3913 9mm, and during the inbetween of spring and fall, the Model 4013 in .40 S&W seemed just right. The guns were all 100 percent for reliability. I often shot matches with either my duty .45 or a sweet single-action 4506 Wayne Novak customized for me with a Model 52 trigger, and the skills transferred remarkably well between all those similar guns.

A quarter century later, consumer tastes have switched to other styles. Now, in the time of polymer pistols, we can still get Glocks, Springfield XDs, and S&W M&Ps in assorted sizes and calibers and shapes which can fit more hand sizes, more wardrobes, and more needs. Aside from the legislative front, it’s a good time to be a pistol packer. There are more locales where we can carry today, and more options which, mechanically, allow us to effectively do so.

Every responsible, law-abiding citizen who chooses to carry a concealed weapon in public needs to identify their own particular needs, their own “threat profile.” If I was a stalking victim or worked behind the counter in an inner-city liquor store, I’d be wearing concealed body armor as religiously as I have in almost 40 years of badge carrying in uniform. I’d probably also be carrying enough ammunition to shoot an NRA Police Service Pistol match.

My “low firepower point” of last year occurred when I was called as an expert witness to a swelteringly hot and humid city in summer, with a dress code of tailored suits. I got by with a snubnose .38 revolver with a DeSantis 2X2X2 pouch plus a Bianchi Speed Strip; threat level was low, and I didn’t feel at all unarmed with that little, light Colt Agent. Heck, I used to work for a police department that sent its officers out with a 6-shot .38 and 12 spare rounds in pouches to protect their public from the worst that could come.

Do you shoot competition? The gun you get the most “trigger time” with, particularly under pressure, is very likely the gun you’ll shoot best when the pressure is “for real.” If Glock matches are your game, it makes huge sense for you to carry that brand, and from Subcompact to Major Sub to Master Stock, there’s almost certainly a Glock you compete with that’s perfectly suitable for 24/7 concealed carry. Right now, I have an IDPA match on the schedule where it makes sense for me to use a 9mm that can run 11 shots, and I’m about to put a Nighthawk Falcon 1911 9mm in my suitcase for my next training tour. A perfectly acceptable defense gun, since it’s both reliable and accurate, and it’ll give me some familiarization time before I step onto the competition firing line with it.

The bottom line? It’s up to each of us to assess our own “threat profile.” Each of us has different body shapes and wardrobe selections for both workdays and “off-duty.” Each of us has different mixes of experience and habituation with guns. And all those things can change day-to-day, season-to-season, and situation-to-situation.

No one else decides for us. The choices are ours. And if you wind up with a “wardrobe of carry guns” just as you already have a wardrobe of clothing for different seasons and occasions… well, there just isn’t anything wrong with that.

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