Report 4: Your Everyday Carry, Part 1 – The Gun

So, you have completed your Basic Pistol class and have applied for a Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP). You are now considering what firearm you are going to carry. This report discusses the process to choose a gun for personal protection that will be carried on the person, and we’ll consider concealability, weapon caliber, and weapon type (semi-automatic or revolver).

Concealability:  You need to coordinate the firearm you choose to carry with who you are. If you are a petite lady, it would be difficult to carry a full-sized gun in a strong-side hip holster and maintain concealability, not to mention having to contend with the weight of the gun. If you are a six foot, 200 pound half-back, concealability is much easier and therefore the options of size and model of gun increases.

Your clothing choices can limit or increase, hamper or facilitate your carry options. There is a concept in the concealed carry world called printing. This is where you are carrying a personal defense gun under one or more layers of clothes and the gun outline can be seen through your clothes. In some locales this is a chargeable offense. The size of gun you choose to carry can lead to printing; obviously, the smaller gun, the less likely to print. Before you leave the house, check yourself in the mirror to make sure you are not printing. Actual carry methods will be covered in another report.

Weapon caliber: How large of a gun can you comfortably handle? What is your comfort level on recoil? This covers not only the size of the gun but includes the caliber you carry. Typically, experts agree that the minimum caliber you should carry for self-protection is a 9mm or .38 special. Both of these are very reasonable with regard to recoil. Heaver calibers such as the .40 S&W or the .45 ACP require some thought and practice if you have a problem with recoil.

Those of us of a “certain age” remember Clint Eastwood carrying around his model 29 Smith and Wesson .44 magnum in a shoulder holster. For the average concealed carry participant, this is NOT a reasonable choice for a couple of reasons. First, just the size of the gun makes it unwieldy and nearly impossible to conceal. But the main reason not to carry one of the “heavy” magnums such as the .44 magnum or .357 magnum is a concept called overshoot. If you have to use your gun to protect yourself against an attacker, the heavy magnums could easily go through the attacker and strike innocent bystanders. You should limit your caliber choice to the non-magnum variety.

Weapon type: When it comes to concealed carry, there are advantages to the semi-automatic handgun over the revolver. Semi-automatics are typically narrower in width and easier to conceal, and if a reload is required they take much less time to reload with a loaded magazine. However, Can you manipulate a semi-automatic? Shooters with weaker hands often have trouble manipulating a slide with a stout recoil spring. Also, while weapons malfunctions are rare when a gun is operated properly, they do happen (often due to faulty magazines). Proper training and regular practice can go a long way to make these potential problems non-issues.

Many prefer to carry a revolver because of its simplicity of use. Typically, to use a double-action revolver you simply pull the trigger, and it shoots. Several gun manufacturers are producing revolvers specifically designed for concealed carry. Many in this fairly new category of gun are “hammerless” snubbies (very short barrel) with lightweight composite frames. These guns actually have hammers, but they are shrouded and out of sight, giving the gun a slick feel and appearance so that there is nothing, like an exposed hammer, that can get caught on clothing. Snubbies require more practice than a standard or even a compact size gun due to the short sight radius. The main drawback of a revolver is that it takes longer to reload, and speed-loaders are awkward to use efficiently without a lot of intensive practice.

No matter your choice of concealed carry gun, you should always have readily accessible at least one full reload (properly loaded magazines/speed-loaders). And, regular, deliberate practice reloading your weapon can make a critical difference in a shooting situation.

Whatever your choice of carry, you absolutely must be aware of where you can carry. There are a number of places you are not permitted to carry. Federal law does not allow concealed or open carry in federal facilities. Colorado State law prohibits concealed or open carry in government buildings such as court houses and the state capitol with permanent security systems, magnetometers and entry guards being two examples. Also in Colorado, it is illegal to carry on private property posted with “No Guns” or words to that effect.

Choosing a personal defense gun is just that, personal. Many gun owners will try to tell you what you should or should not buy, but it all boils down to what you are comfortable carrying and using. No matter what you choose, it will be of little to no benefit unless you practice and become truly comfortable with it. Using your choice of personal defense weapon must come as second nature. When shopping for a gun, it is important that you try out a number of makes, types, and calibers. Also, be leery of the gun store salesman who is really pushing one specific gun or type of gun. That is his choice and not necessarily the right one for you. Don’t settle for the first one that feels good in your hand. It may not be the one for you. The proof is in the shooting.

For more information about advanced training, contact Falcon Personal Security.