Ok, so if you have perused other areas of my site, you already know what I consider the best concealed carry guns available…that would be the gun you have on you when the bad guy shows up to do you harm like the guy in the video, right. No gun, no caliber, no size…nothing about a weapon will matter when the bad guy arrives if the gun is at home on the nightstand or in the center console of your vehicle. Now, we got that said. The gun ON YOU is the BEST gun.
But now let’s discuss what criteria you must consider prior to deciding which gun you will actually carry, day in and day out, in all kinds of weather and all manner of dress…even at the beach. What, you say? …bad guys go to the beach? Figure it out.
You must first consider whether or not you understand enough about calibers in order to “feel” more secure with one versus another. Do you know enough to determine which caliber weapon you trust to “get the job done”. If you know nothing about calibers, ask friends, family, spouse … or me.
One solution to this is to go to the local gun range, many ranges today have guns they rent so you can try them but realize this is not necessarily a speedy process because there are so many factors that can make significant differences. You must consider:
- Grip angle
And all of this BEFORE you consider conceal-ability and wear-ability.
Caliber has to do with the size of the projectile, especially the width of the bullet. Just to illustrate, there are three categories of 9mm (diameter) ammo, two of which are shown above: the small .380 ACP on the right (aka: 380 Auto, 9mm Browning, 9mm Corto, 9mm Kurz, 9mm Short, 9×17mm and 9 mm Browning Court), the 9mm Makarov (aka: 9×18mm PM) and the most well-known 9mm Luger on the left. The differences between these three 9mm’s is 1mm in the length of the case. For further reading, see the Wikipedia article here.
Even within the same caliber there are different bullets based on weight, shape, length and type. The image on the left shows four different bullets, all of which are hollow points. I say this to inform you of the fact that there are so many variables to consider, it’s important to work though these various considerations prior to purchasing a weapon, holster, etc. Using one caliber with one type of bullet may give you a very different shooting experience than using another…this is not to scare you but to caution you not to rush this process. Again, for further reading see the Wikipedia article here.
This is the substance that burns within the round to create the pressure that forces the bullet to project down the barrel. Different rounds have different amounts of this powder and the amount is determined by the intended use of the round; hence, a self-defense round is different than a target round. Self-Defense rounds are specially made to stop upon impact and not penetrate beyond what they first hit, thereby minimizing the risk they will pass through your intended target and strike an innocent bystander. Never use a target load in your self-defense weapon. The manufacturers of ammo take all these things into consideration when they label their ammo. If you are confused, ask the counter person at the gun range or gun store (regrettably, the counter person at the big box stores where they sell ammo rarely understand anything about this). More on this subject at Wikipedia, here.
The easiest way to demonstrate the difference in materials is to show you one of the new “modern color” weapons. It is easy to see that the bottom of the gun (frame) is made of purple polymer (plastic) while the top of the gun is made of steel. You must take into consideration if the weapon is all steel, other metals (aluminum)or polymers (plastics)…these materials effect weight and recoil. It’s important to know so you don’t incorrectly judge one weapon over the other. What do I mean? Two handguns of the same caliber will recoil differently based on construction materials. You might like shooting an all steel Smith & Wesson (S&W) but not like shooting the same caliber steel and polymer S&W. I was hoping to provide a reference to direct you to for further study but was unable to find one. If you know of one, please direct me to it in the comments section below.
If you have ever handled a weapon, the first thing you notice is whether or not it fits “right in your hand” and this is perfectly normal. The width and feel of the gun is very important; however, that experience of it “fitting right in your hand” does not inform you as to how it will feel when you fire it. The angle of the grip, notice the different angle in the photos above, determines how much “felt recoil” you experience…whether it drives the recoil force “up and back” at the wrist or “straight back” into your arm. “Up and back” will normally put a lot of pressure on your wrist; whereas “straight back” will generally disperse the recoil into your more substantial forearm. So, for example, you might enjoy shooting a steel and polymer S&W but not like shooting the same caliber Ruger, or vice versa…they have different grip angles and this changes how much “felt recoil” you might experience.
Moving Right Along
So, why would I spend such a great amount of time on the above factors: caliber, bullets, gunpowder, materials and grip angle? The reason is I want to help you realize your decision to carry or not carry will usually be determined by you becoming convinced that the tool you use will indeed make you a more effective weapon. If you are not sure your gun will do when you press it into service, you will not bother to carry it…you must be totally convinced you have on you all that is necessary to accomplish your task. Getting these issues out of the way up front, I believe, will make deciding on the actual tool (gun) so much easier.
Once you decide on the caliber (and all the related issues pertaining), you can then start looking for the gun that fits your other needs. Choosing little or big is not the issue because these days you can get a little 45 Taurus Millennium Pro P145 (on the left below)
or a big 380 Browning BDA (above right) The Taurus is under 21 ounces; while the Browning is just over 23 ounces…looking at the two pistols from the side you’d probably think the Browning is the larger caliber…so it’s easier, I think, to choose your caliber then figure out what gun will meet your conceal-ability and your wear-ability factors.
Guns Are Like Cars
Guns, to me, are similar to cars. If money is not the determining factor, we buy our cars not on what is really the best, whatever that means, but rather on how sexy they appear to us. I was astounded when the Pontiac Aztek was put in the same category of “ugly” cars as the Ford Pinto and the Ford Edsel…WHAT? There was absolutely no comparison. I have owned two Pontiac Aztecs and loved both of them. If they still made Aztecs I’d buy one again in a heart beat. Of course, I like things that “look different”, are unique, but I also like comfort. The Aztek was exceptional, its drive was sporty, not Corvette sporty, but sporty. They had the comfort of a Buick Park Avenue and they were phenomenally versatile and not unreasonable on gas mileage. Great cars!!! But to others, they were the ugliest cars next only to Edsel, Pinto and Gremlins…go figure!
Visiting the Gun Store
When you go to get a gun there will be something in you that just “likes that one”. Whoever goes with you will “just like another one”…that’s the way it is with guns…that’s the way it is with cars.
You will “just like” one and not like the others as much. The one you “just like” will be a certain type of gun. Let me explain by using cars again.
To me a Volvo is a very masculine vehicle and a BMW a very feminine vehicle; whereas, the Aztek was neither a masculine nor feminine vehicle, it was functional and I love functional. I wouldn’t want to drive a Volvo (older models that is, they’ve become more feminine since Ford took over their design several years ago) nor would I want to drive a BMW…I could stand a Mercedes but not a BMW. The Bentley and Rolls-Royce combine both the masculine and feminine in their vehicles…but both really are out of my league.
Nevertheless, to me it is the same with guns. There are firearms manufacturers who brilliantly combine both the masculine and the feminine in their design; normally though I consider them too expensive to carry on a daily basis…remember this, in the regrettable event of a self-defense shooting your weapon will be confiscated by the police. Recognizing this, I’ve put the limit I’m willing to have walk away at five hundred or under. But don’t be concerned for there are thousands of guns in the five hundred and below price range; for my money, the S&W M&P satisfies my likes and I’ve grown rather fond of the Springfield Armory SD models as well…but that’s just me. You have to do your own research and make your own decision. As they say in Latin, “De gustibus non in esputantes”…in matters of taste, there’s no dispute.
There are thousands of guns…big/little, lite/heavy, small caliber/large caliber…the possibilities are endless. You have to start somewhere, so I suggest you start first by ruling out caliber and all the factors I mentioned; then, start looking for what “tickles your fancy”.
Recently I read an interesting comment, the person said “Carrying a gun is comforting but not necessarily comfortable”, in the final analysis, you will buy what appeals to your sense of “sexy”…did I say that?
What do you think, would you start your gun purchasing process with a consideration of caliber or would you look first for conceal-ability and wear-ability? Give me your take on the subject.