As a Chief Range Safety Officer, I spend a lot of time at the range. Some patterns become obvious when you see hundreds of people come through to shoot their guns. One of those patterns brings a quote by Clint Smith at Thunder Ranch to mind : “Beware the man who has only one gun. He probably knows how to use it.’
The subject often comes up, what is the right concealment gun for me?
The answer can be as varied as the people who ask it.
One should consider things such as how do I normally dress when I’m carrying. Do I live in a climate that requires layers of clothes or is a pair of shorts, t-short and flip flops the uniform of the day?
What is my body type – Large, Petite or somewhere in between. While you may want to carry a larger or smaller pistol, does it fit your hand size?
Granted there are all kinds of accessory options to compensate for a certain pistol’s limitations, however just like an adjustable wrench, it may not always turn out to be the right tool for the job.
The object is to end up with one that is easy to hide, comfortable to carry and an effective caliber. And of course the acid test is always how good are you with it. If it is not easy to hide, you could get yourself into all kinds of trouble as well as giving up the element of surprise concealed carry offers. Or worse, because it isn’t easy to hide you won’t carry it. The same goes for one that is not comfortable to carry because it is too heavy, too large, the wrong shape or whatever other excuse you may use. The one day you don’t carry it may be the one day in your whole life that you needed it. You just never know.
Other major considerations are action type, reliability, sight options and must have accessories. Double actions are often considered more reliable than semi automatics but are generally thicker and carry less rounds. Semiautomatics can be nice and flat, carry more rounds in the magazine but can be subject to misfire and jamming issues. Both of these shortcomings can be somewhat compensated for with the proper accessories and training.
Must have accessories are also dependent upon your choice of a pistol. I used to never carry extra magazines but after one unfortunate experience I now carry one in the pistol and two additional. Speed loaders for revolvers can be every bit as fast but you do have the issue of them being thicker and maybe less easy for some to hide on your person. If your likely engagement scenario is at night, some sort of night sights are in order. I prefer the tritium painted as opposed to laser sights for a number of obvious reasons but your ammunition choice can be the biggest issue at night.
Yes, muzzle flash can totally blind you and prevent any follow up shots in addition to providing a nice silhouette for your opponent. If you have not taken your pistol with your chosen defensive ammo out to the range on a moonless night you don’t have a clue whether it will be an issue or not.
No matter which gun you choose, your commitment to learn to use that gun properly and safely is much more important than caliber, magazine capacity, size, or operational design.