Over the last several months I have answered more questions and recommended more concealed carry licensing than I can remember. That is great news, but here is some helpful tips regarding concealed carry for those just starting out.
While a gun is better than no gun, think about what you are carrying. Think about why you are carrying a gun in the first place. If you are committed to personal protection then outline some minimum requirements for most defensive situations. While many times a good concealed carry gun can make for a good home defense gun, let’s keep them separated for now. Let’s also remember that many pistol calibers are poor fight stoppers, they are convenient hence the concealed carry. I look for minimum penetration, reliability and something I can hit with consistently.
I am always going to be brutally honest here; when we talk about carry guns we see some pretty crazy stuff, but for the most part they are going to be compact and in some cases ultra-compact. Great for concealment, but there comes a point of diminishing returns on these pint size blasters and I use terminal performance as the guide here. It is a balance between terminal performance and concealablilty. We know that minimum penetration depths is 12″. That gives you plenty of options as far as penetrating through clothing, extremities or in some cases obstructions.
Another problem you run into with this compact guns is reliability, let’s face it some are pretty much not worth the box they came in so go with a trusted name. More on that below.
I don’t get wrapped up in the caliber debate, choose a good defensive caliber, then choose a good defensive round that you can obtain in sufficient quantities to perform a function check, have a single load out, have a back up load out and then routine rotation. Remember the golden rule, if you do your part then pretty much most of the common defensive rounds will do theres. If you miss, then pretty much it is all academics.
However if you must know, I recommend the 9mm platform for a couple of reasons. First off, in the compact models they are pretty easy to conceal. Generally lighter and here is the big one; carry more rounds. Yep, that is pretty much my main selection criterion; magazine capacity. You will notice how I said magazine capacity, which means I have excluded the ultra compact revolvers. While you would hate to do a reload, if you have to its hard to beat a magazine feed pistol. As far as magazine capacity is concerned I consider 10 rounds to be the minimum. It provides you with a decent load out to deal with not just one committed attacker, but possibly two. Big point to consider here and that is the possibility of having more than one bad guy and trying to avoid a reload.
The last thing to consider is you have to hit the target and hit it consistently from the various concealment options. The compact models can be difficult to shoot reliably, some have a smaller grip surface, increased recoil and poor sights. Practice, practice and practice some more. When it is go time, that is not the time to figure all this out…it’s a pretty steep learning curve.
Carrying concealed is not just a right, it is a personal choice. Put some thought into it and avoid the bare minimum, you will get bare minimum results.