Choosing a Concealed Carry Weapon
TMI — Too Much Information
Undoubtedly, one of the first things you are doing when making the decision to get a Concealed Carry permit is search the Internet for the “best” CCW. (Afterall, you’re reading this article, right?) However, it becomes instantaneously obvious that there is no consensus (or right answer) to this question. It all boils down to, what’s right for you?
Answering that question should factor in more than simply finding a gun you feel comfortable shooting. It should encompass the following criteria:
Is it big enough?
How big is big enough? A lot of information you will read will lead you down a path of thinking that higher caliber guns are better at stopping bad guys. I suppose technically they’re right, but I absolutely guarantee you that most random encounters you might have with people who intend to do you harm will NOT expect you to shoot at them, and when you do — with any caliber weapon — you will immediately have their attention.
Personally, I would recommend something .38 caliber or larger. Almost anyone can handle a .38. There is absolutely no reason why a new gun owner should think they have to have a .45 ACP to have a gun with enough power to do the job.
In the end, you should consider the largest caliber you can comfortably, and accurately, handle and will regularly carry.
Will you Carry it?
Buying a gun you won’t carry is equal to having no gun at all. The point of having a conceal and carry permit is having the gun when you need it. None of us can predict when that will be. It could be at the corner coffee shop or at an all night drive through. The simple truth is none of us really knows. If your gun is heavy, bulky, or uncomfortable and you won’t carry it — don’t buy it.
Sometimes, especially when you are a new permit holder, it’s hard to know what the right choice is. A gun can feel right in your hands and shoot well on the range, but until you find the right holster it is hard to know if this is something you will enjoy carrying.
I would recommend erring on the side of smaller caliber, lighter frame weapons. I would start by checking out the Ruger LCR or the Smith & Wesson 642. These guns are safe, reliable, and easy to carry.
Is it trustworthy?
You are trusting your life and those of your loved ones to this weapon, so if the moment to draw and fire your weapon ever comes you need to KNOW it is going to go bang just as you expect it to. Again, everyone has opinions on this, but I am in the “simple is better camp.” If you need to use your weapon the less you have to remember the better. It should be as simple as aim and pull the trigger. I am not a fan of tactical lights, laser sights or any other gizmos.
Also, a quality gun is an investment, if the time ever comes when you need it you will be very glad you bought a quality well made pistol from a brand you can trust vs. the reconditioned pot-metal clunker for $100. You don’t have to buy the nickle plated limited edition ultra engraved handgun, but buy something you can trust.
Do you feel comfortable with it?
Most folks I know who have conceal and carry permits have a LOT of guns. It is just one of those areas where it is hard to own just one. However, I would recommend that you pick one gun and get very comfortable with it. You should be comfortable shooting it accurately, drawing it fast and on target, and comfortably carrying it. If a time comes when you need to use your weapon the last thing you want to do is be fumbling around for it. These are already stressful situations and you want to be as familiar as possible with your weapon.
Once you are proficient with one you may decide to try another gun and learn to use it as well, but I find my own habits are to stick with one gun at a time and get very comfortable with it.