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Concealed Carry Firearms; What’s the Best Choice?

There are probably as many opinions regarding what is the best handgun for concealed carry as there are individuals carrying them. Everyone has their own likes, dislikes, needs and wants. There is no ‘one size fits all’ especially when it comes to personal protection firearms.

In the past, consumers were limited to one or two semi-automatic pistols and a few revolvers. Not anymore. There are dozens of reliable handguns available which is a good and bad thing. The good news is there are many options available. The bad news is there are many options available. For the first time gun buyer, this can lead to confusion and frustration. Many times, especially for women, they are forced to rely on the ‘expertise’ of a friend, relative, or spouse for advice. Generally, this advice, while well meaning, is based on personal preference and/or incorrect information.

It is often thought that a smaller handgun is easier to shoot/control than a full size one. Again, quite often, the smaller guns are the ones recommended to women because of their smaller hands and strength. These include small .380, 9mm semi-automatics and .38 revolvers. In most cases, these are terrible choices especially for first timers. The long, hard trigger pull on most small revolvers is often too much for smaller individuals or those with other limiting issues such as arthritis. The small semi-autos are generally too small to grip well and again, the hand size and strength make it difficult to control and operate.

Some companies, like Smith & Wesson, have addressed that problem with their new EZ line that includes both .380 and 9mm variations. These were designed to enable those with any physical limitations to be well armed with a firearm they are comfortable with, can operate with no difficulties and can shoot accurately. Ruger also has their LCR revolvers in .22 (LR and magnum), .38, 9mm, .327 Fed Mag and .357 calibers. All have nice ergonomics, are lightweight and the trigger is very user friendly.

As far as recommendations go, as stated, everyone has their own preferences. Well known firearms instructor, John Farnam states:

“Mainstream serious guns now are polymer-framed, striker-fired, with no manual safety, no decocking lever, no magazine safety, captured recoil spring, and have variable grip-geometry.”

To translate the technical stuff, the recommendations are:

- High capacity

- 9mm or larger caliber (.40, .45; If revolver, 38/.357)

- Polymer frame

- Striker fired

I own and have owned quite a few different firearms that I carried both on and off-duty. They ranged from a full sized 1911 in .45 ACP carried in an inside the waist holster, to a Ruger LCP .380 hanging around my neck. Several revolvers also found their way to my waist and ankle. All served their purpose at the time. Now, I limit my EDC (everyday carry) guns to only three which meet the above criteria.

If you decide to carry a concealed handgun, there are some decisions you must make before doing so. Why are you carrying it? Are there any restrictions you may have to be aware of (i.e. small children)? How are you going to carry it – On/off body? Inside the waist or on the belt? In a purse? Ankle holster?

So, which one to choose? As stated, there are many choices. For women, this can be frustrating for the reasons mentioned above. So, I will offer the following as an example. I have asked women who attend my entry level classes if they already have a gun. Those that say yes, I ask how they obtained it. Most say their spouse bought it. My next question is, “How many pairs of shoes do you own?” A lot of laughter follows. I then ask, “What did you do before you bought the shoes?” They thought about where they were going to wear them, how they fit, how they looked, etc. All good. Next – “Has your spouse ever bought you a pair of shoes? “ More laughter. So then I ask, “If you let your spouse buy you a gun, why don’t you let them buy your shoes?” Silence. Point made. The same can be said about first time male buyers as well. The biggest difference is most men tend to look at the biggest, shiniest, most ‘tactical’ they can find. Sorry guys.

Moving forward …

What are some good choices for concealed carry? You need to answer the questions above and then go ‘try some on’. Shoot several if you can and see what ‘fits’ you and your needs best. Here are some examples of reliable handguns:

- S&W EZ (.380/9mm)

- S&W J Frame revolvers

- Ruger LCR

- S&W’s M&P Shield

- Glock (pick one)

- Kimber Solo

- Beretta Nano

- Sig P365/Sig P365 XL/Sig P320 Compact

- Springfield XDS

- Walther PPS/Walther CCP M2/ Walther PPQ

- Springfield Armory Hellcat

- Beretta APX Centurion


- Sccy CPX

Bottom line: There is something out there for everyone – you just have to look around and don’t settle. Get the gun that fits YOUR needs and not what someone else says is ‘THE GUN’. There is a good chance you won’t like it. And if you don’t like it, you won’t practice with it. Kind of like that pair of shoes that rubs blisters on your feet every time you wear them.


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