Picking the Right Carry Gun for You part 1

Once you read our last article (If you have not clicked HERE) and determined what the purpose of gun you want to own is you are left with lots and lots of choices.
This is the first of 3 articles related to the topic of defense guns. Once the other articles are written we will link to them from here. They will be as follows:

  • Picking the Right Carry Gun for You
  • Picking the Right Home Defense Rifle for You
  • Picking the Right Home Defense Pistol for You

Carry Weapons are usually smaller framed semi-automatics or revolvers that are lightweight, resist dirt and are easy to conceal on your body. We will go into the various methods of concealment, holsters and types of draw in a future article.
When looking to purchase your first carry gun you will be inundated with individuals who will make it their duty to protect you from making a bad choice. You can read this as they will urge you to do what they did. If you are the same size and strength as them with a similar familiarity with guns then by all means listen to them. If not then please be very careful taking advice from such people. Read the options below and make a decision that fits your individual needs.
Remember if you are carrying a gun the purpose of this gun is very specific

  • Be light enough to actually take with you
  • Accurate enough to hit your target
  • Reliability you trust with your life and your families

Some things to take into consideration:

  • Most gun fights happen in less than 15ft most within 7ft
  • The #1 rule of a gun fight is having a gun on you
  • Larger guns may offer more protection but increased weight will lead to you not taking it with you and then you broke rule #1
  • You are not going to be getting into a Hollywood shootout this is for defense you’re not the Terminator

Picking the caliber of firearm you are looking for is an important part of deciding on the right concealed carry options. Contrary to popular belief 9mm and .380 are 2 of the most commonly chosen calibers for concealed carry. Several reasons can be cited for why:

  • Smaller bullets = less weight
  • Smaller bullets = more ammunition in the same space
  • Less gun powder in the cartridge = lower recoil
  • Lower pressure = lighter materials in the gun

The best gun is the one you are willing to take with you everyday. You want to have a firearm that has enough ammunition to neutralize multiple attackers that you are comfortable and accurate with firing. Further this is a weapon that should not require constant cleaning, can handle everyday wear and tear. Believe it or not a 4 caliber  1911 will fit the bill of these requirements for some guys. For others a 6 shot .380 in the pocket is all they need.
The only way you will know will be shooting various guns. This is where having friends that own multiple pistols and being near a good range that rents pistols will come in handy. This is what I usually do when trying to help a new person get comfortable. I always recommend the largest caliber handgun that you are 100% comfortable shooting and that will conceal well on your body that fits properly in your hand.

  • Can you shoot the caliber
  • Can you comfortably hold the gun
  • Can you easily conceal the weapon based on your frame

To Determine the caliber that is right for you start by renting a full size 9mm. You will not want to carry this but it is a good place to start. If 9mm is too much kick for you go to a .380 compact or sub compact pistols. If you have no issue with the 9mm I highly suggest you look at .40 caliber. If you a larger more muscular person with a solid frame then you can go to .45. It cannot be stressed enough that a 380 when shot into a person is dangerous to the person and offers effective stopping power when properly placed. In almost all cases you do not need a 45 or 44 magnum gun to protect yourself from the average self defense encounter.
I have 2 carry guns that I rotate based on the circumstances:

  • 40 cal Glock 27 sub compact that I carry inside the waistband for most occasions. This comes with a 9 round magazine plus one in the chamber is 10 shots. If I am going to Detroit I can carry a larger magazine as a backup but in all honesty I have never felt the need to have that much firepower. 
  • 9mm Sig Sauer p938 sub compact. This has been reviewed in detail(Click Here) and is a great pocket pistol. This is what I wear when I am dressed up and need deep cover, cannot wear a belt or when I just when I want a lighter option. This is 6-7 rounds (depending on magazine) of 9mm plus one in the chamber.

If you are a bit more concerned with the kick a lighter version of my carry would be:

  • 9mm Glock 26 sub compact
  • 380 Sig Sauer p380 sub compact

Once you have shot several calibers the real fun begins. After deciding on the caliber you want there is an almost limitless list of possibilities. You have steel framed 1911 and 1911 type clones to very small composite material polymer guns and revolvers of different shapes and sizes. The next process becomes an elimination based on frame type and trigger style.
We will go into Trigger types and the differences between revolvers and semi automatics in our next article later this week.
Until then happy shooting and stay safe.

Charles is the editor for 248 Shooter a midwest based gun news and gear review site as well as Online Content Director for On Target Magazine. He is an avid student taking classes from top tier trainers around the country. Charles shares his love for training as well as experience and opinions on some of the most talked about gear and products used by competitive shooters, military, leo and civilians.