When choosing a handgun, the analogy to a vehicle—something most of us use every day—is useful. We all understand the term “dead weight.” That is the weight of the bed or truck (or the support structure in architecture), but that’s not what we are looking at today—when unloaded. Live weight is the truck loaded. The handgun, ammo, holster, and spare gun load add up quickly in live weight. Sticks of copy and reams of paper have been slugged during this discussion and we now offer bytes by the millions. The thing is, while there must be room for personal choice, there is a bottom line for performance and quality. If you like a small car you can easily drive in the city that’s fine. But you cannot pick up a dining room set with it.
If in the worst-case scenario, a truck runs a stop sign and hits the Smart Car, well, you may have wished you had something a tad big larger. By the same token, any gun is good for a threat. However, if you really need the pistol you may wish you had something larger and more appropriate for the task at hand.
There are very small guns that people find attractive and make all kinds of excuses for wearing them. Some are high quality; others are dangerous in my opinion. I think that the middle of road and a handgun that fires a credible cartridge with a good chance of being effective is ideal. The pistol should be a mid-size so to speak.
A good number want the security—false security—of carrying a gun, but they don’t want to invest in proper training and carry gear. They just want a gun, regardless whether it is potentially ineffective. If the gun is so light that it is unnoticed, it may be misplaced or lost. Don’t laugh. I have seen plenty of this in my career.
Guns have been left in lavatories, bedrooms on the dresser, and dropped between car seats. The gun should not be comfortable it should be comforting. You don’t want to give up your CWP because of a dumb move, so always be aware of exactly where the carry piece is.
Several years ago, the FBI did a study on duty guns. FBI agents are better trained and in better shape than many of us, but just the same, the results were interesting. The study concluded that a handgun over 35 ounces becomes a burden on the belt, and the rank and file will complain or even leave the gun in the car. In other words, a 3-inch barrel .38 on the belt is better than a .357 Magnum you don’t carry.
So, is an Officers Model 9mm better than a Government Model .45 you don’t carry. Then again, modern, polymer-framed Glock handguns are light and reliable. A Glock 43 9mm is just one example. Of course, you will shoot the Glock 19 better but…
Then there is the fellow who tells you that most, if not all, personal defense shootings occur at very short range. That is true, but you do not get hits by instinctive shooting any more than you can drive a car with your eyes closed. You must aim somehow, even if using the meat and paper-type aiming is all you have.
The junk guns are not very accurate past bad breath range. There are so many scenarios that could happen, from an adversary behind cover to a mass shooter in a public place, that is why it is important for the handgun be reasonably accurate. Even a quality snub nose .38 Special will place all its shots in the cranium at 7 yards, but the shooter behind the trigger must do his or her job. Medium-sized handguns such as a 3-inch barrel revolver or a compact self-loader are much easier to shoot well. I think that a handgun with the potential to place all five shots into 5 inches at 25 yards is a realistic minimum.
Then there are those who feel that the .32 and .380 are just fine, so long as they put the bullet in the right place. This usually comes from someone who has only fired their handgun during the CWP class and doesn’t shoot very well. Despite feel good ballistic preaching and revisionist history, no, the little gun doesn’t perform like the big gun.
Don’t use small calibers to attempt to solve a big caliber problem. The baseline should be a .38 Special or 9mm Luger caliber handgun. I guarantee you, with proper training you will fire and use a compact 9mm or 3-inch barrel revolver better than the smaller guns. The grips fit most hands better, the controls are easier to manipulate, and the sight radius allows better accuracy.
Actually fire the guns, and you will understand the difference in hit probability. Hitting more accurately with a more powerful round seems attractive to a thinking person. Remember, there are three factors in the application of force in this light. They are direction, strength, and point of application. The first and second properties are combined in a mathematical calculation called vector. The point of application is the point of the arrow, and the spot on the target where the force does the most good and the most meaningful damage. This means accurate delivery.
Others claim they cannot conceal an effective handgun. I feel their pain. You may be the envy of everyone around you—as the rest of us attempt to cut weight. However, a thin person may have to wear looser fitting clothing and perhaps take a longer look at holsters to conceal a bulge on their hip. Wear a quality IWB—supple leather works best for me—over the right rear pocket. The draw is compromised but you simply cannot wear a handgun on the point of the hip and conceal it. You will look like a water moccasin that has swallowed a muskrat. It isn’t pretty.
The draw is compromised, just a little, but concealment is excellent. Buy a quality rig not a $10 fabric holster at a chain store. Galco is a good name, Blackhawk! has interesting designs, and Crossbreed makes more than one favorite. If you go the custom route, then you will find several very interesting designs, well made, crafted one at a time just for you. At the minimum you will be able to conceal a Glock 43 X or an Officer’s Model Citadel.
Think hard about the concept of concealed carry. What are you carrying for? What is the likely scenario? What is the worst-case scenario? Don’t be the person in the unenviable situation of being armed with a deadly weapon but unable to defense themselves well.
The Best Choices?
- Citadel 9mm Officers Model – Reliable, accurate well past 25 yards, and fast to a first shot hit there is a lot of love about the Citadel.
- Smith and Wesson Model 60 3-Inch Barrel – Compared to the 2- inch barrel snubnoses, that bit of extra sight radius and dampening weight makes a difference.
- CZ P10C – Just enough larger than the Glock 26 to make a difference, the CZ P10c is among the finest of the striker-fired compact handguns.
There are others, choose the one that suits you best.
Which pistol or pistols do you regularly carry for CCW and why? What decision making went into picking the barrel length of the handgun? Share your answers in the comment section.
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