Part 2 of my series on things a new shooter or concealed carrier might want to consider. Remember to support your local gun store.
This is a tough subject. People have debated this for years and this argument can start bar fights if you’re not careful. Let me just throw this out there. “All handguns suck!”
Did I just say that? Yes. If you study ballistics testing (and I suggest you don’t unless you have insomnia) you’ll find that today, most handgun bullets have about the same stopping power. Ammunition technology is the best it’s ever been. Bullet designs are also the best they’ve ever been. There’s only 1mm or 2mm difference between the diameter of a 9mm, .40 caliber and .45acp caliber. And the heavier bullets travel slower. Which is better? All of them.
Seriously, don’t get caught up in caliber decisions. Pick one that you can shoot well, accurately and can acquire easily. Bad guys have been stopped with .22’s and .44 magnums and everything in between.
But the size of your gun matters. What a revelation, huh? Size matters. Joking aside, I want to bust the myth, right now, that beginners need a small gun. Way too often, women are easily persuaded to buy a small gun. They are told that it’s little, convenient and easy to use. Nothing could be further from the truth. It might be small, but it’s much harder to shoot.
Sometimes men also buy a small gun because it’s easier to carry. I would be dishonest if I told you that I don’t do that. I do, but very rarely. I only carry such a thing when it’s absolutely forbidden for me to be seen carrying a firearm.
The laws of physics don’t change. The smaller and lighter the gun, the more recoil it’s going to have (some people call it “kick.”) So it will be harder and more unpleasant to shoot. That also means you won’t practice much with it and when the time comes (hope it doesn’t) for you to use it, you might not prevail.
These little guns give you the ability to carry and hide them easily, however. That’s the trade off, but it’s one I’m not willing to make very often. I urge you to carry the largest gun you can comfortably carry. My view on this is different than a lot of other “experts.” Maybe because I look at it from an every day guy’s perspective and not a military or law enforcement operator. But even a little gun is better than no gun. You’ll find a lot of guns that are easy to carry and easy to shoot. Just be prepared to practice with it a lot.
Some examples are the Smith and Wesson Shield 9mm, Springfield Armory XDS 9mm, Glock 42 .380 caliber, Ruger LCSpro 9mm. There are others, but these are very popular for concealed carry and will also serve you well as a home defense gun. My preferred carry gun is a Glock 19, but I’m often found carrying a Shield 9mm and a Kahr PM9. With a good holster and belt (more on this later) these guns are comfortable and will get the job done, should you need to use it. You should look these up so you can see their sizes and weight, caliber and dimensions. Also, keep this book handy so you can go to a gun store and range and ask to rent these guns. Some guns hold more ammo than other and are often called “double stacks.” I’m trying not to get too technical for those of you new to concealed carry. That simply means the ammo is stacked in the magazine, side by side and then on top of each other. “Single stacks” have their ammo stacked one on top of each other, sort like single formation. So those guns are thinner and easier to conceal. A Glock 19 is an example of a double stack gun. A Kahr PM9 is an example of a single stack gun.
The best suggestion I can give you is DON’T BUY ANYTHING unless you can go to a range and rent one first. Or if a friend or relative has a gun model you’re interested in, borrow it and shoot it first. Gun stores are full of used snub nosed .38/.357 revolvers or small .380 caliber wallet sized semi automatics. People buy them because they’re cute, small and the one that irritates me the most, “easy for women to use.”
Then the owner goes to the range to shoot them for the first time and after 10-15 rounds fired, they decide they hate the gun. They recoil a lot, have hard trigger pulls and not very good sights. They are an experts gun, not a beginners’. The main point here is to resist the persuasion from your friends, relatives or even spouses to buy a certain gun. It’s a personal decision and one only you should make. In the end, if you end up with a snub nosed .38 special revolver or a medium sized double stack gun, you’ll be well armed. Just carry it all the time and everywhere it’s legal. That’s the key.
P.S. If you would like to support this blog and my show, please visit www.shootersclubmembers.com for a cool gun giveaway and a lot of educational material. I also have an Amazon Store listed at the top of this website.