So you completed a concealed carry course and received your license or permit to carry. Or maybe you’ve had your license for a while and are in the market to purchase a serious concealed carry gun.
Choices for concealed carry handguns may seem almost endless. The following “Five C” approach may aid you in the quest for the perfect carry gun.
Let’s start with the obvious. While this may seem straightforward, it can prove challenging. How you carry is of course unique to you and your daily habits. A secure carry system in the form of a holster or other method is essential, but the gun itself must lend itself to a practical way of concealment.
Most likely the upper size limit would be along the lines of a Glock 19, Smith and Wesson 2.0 or Springfield XDM 3.8-inch models. The average person may find these handguns difficult to carry and conceal day to day. A single stack pistol or a snub nose revolver fits the bill for many people, and there are some excellent choices out there.
The S&W Shield, Glock 42 or 43 models, and Ruger LCR all come to mind when discussing some of the best options for small, concealed carry handguns. With the appropriate carry system, any of these guns can be easily concealed, on a daily basis.
It stands to reason that if you are going to conceal your handgun that comfort of carry needs to go along with it. If the gun and/or carry system is not comfortable, you won’t carry it for long. So what factors will influence the comfort factor of your concealed carry gun? Weight, overall dimensions (length and width) perhaps preference for a platform of the gun itself–revolver or semi-auto–will influence this decision.
Also, don’t forget to consider the gun’s weight when fully loaded; this may influence whether you carry a double or single stack pistol along with the caliber (i.e. 45 ACP ammo is heavier than 9mm).
Along with comfort, a carry method that keeps your firearm highly secure must also be a consideration. Remember, your pistol could be used against you if it comes loose from concealment in the midst of a confrontation.
Here, I’m mostly referring to caliber as related to ballistic performance in defensive use. We could write volumes and debate until the end of time about what the best pistol caliber is for your concealed carry gun. Most any handgun caliber that you would realistically carry concealed has limitations on how effective it can really be on another human.
So, the age-old debate of 45 ACP vs 9mm is easy for me. I love the 9mm because of the higher round capacity as in a comparably sized 45 ACP. Have no doubt, I love the old 45 Auto. But with the advent of increased ballistic performance, better recoil management, and higher round count, I usually opt for the 9mm.
I see everything from 22 rim fire to 44 magnum showing up in concealed carry courses today. And while there may indeed be a time and place for both of these extremes, somewhere in the middle is probably more realistic.
Have your doubts? Consider that the most commonly used pistol caliber today by the US military and American law enforcement is the 9mm.
I must mention reliability of the gun itself in this section. Does the gun fire and cycle with every trigger pull? If not, or if the gun is too picky about ammunition, get rid of it. Some guns on the market today are more accurate than others, but all are accurate enough for defensive purposes. When it comes right down to it, I will sacrifice a bit of accuracy for reliability every time in my concealed carry handgun.
Here I am speaking of how well you as an individual can control and manipulate the gun itself. Many factors influence this: grip strength, the fit of the gun to your hand, willingness to train, caliber, and make/model of the handgun.
Bottom line, you need to be able to run the gun under the most stressful of times. Factors such as recoil control, reloading the gun with ease, malfunction clearances, and defeating any safety devices could all be critical if the day comes you need your pistol to prevent loss of life.
As we all know, the cost of a concealed carry handgun can vary greatly. In general terms, the bargain basement-priced pistol may not provide you with needed reliability, while the extremely high-priced firearm may in the end be all for show and not practical, nor necessarily reliable.
If you take a look at the current products from brands like Glock, S&W, Ruger, Springfield, Sig Sauer, FN, H&K, you’ll be able to find something in the $250 to $650 price range that should fit your needs. Big-name brands generally also have good warranty service and readily available replacement parts.
In the end, the best concealed carry handgun for me is one that is reliable, easy to operate, concealable, and has a proven track record. Then I head to the range and put in some serious training time. After all, it’s the defense of self and family that’s really at stake.