I have searched and am continuing to try to discover the ideal Concealed Carry (CC) gun for myself, like many do. This is proving to be a very challenging task with a lot of dynamic variables, like when Al Gore “created” the Internet or when Thomas Crapper developed the flush toilet. Is there really a one best or ideal gun for carry purposes? The starting place for me was to define the characteristics and features of what I preferred in my carry gun. Note that these are my “wants” and NOT “needs.” I listed them and divided them into three categories… my strongly-preferred features, my preferred features, and my would-like-to-have-but-not-mandatory features. I have learned after spending a big chunk of money changing my CC gun and criteria about 5 times each over the last 3 years, that you cannot always pay attention to what your friend prefers, what the “experts” select, or even what is the “latest and greatest” new CC firearm to hit the market. Also, a high-dollar price tag and cost in general are not always related to what is the best CC gun for YOU or any individual, given individual likes and dislikes, hand and finger size, muscle strength, usual attire, work or play environment, preferences, etc. One would logically think that there must be a certain minimum round capacity, a specific type of powerful caliber, a particular trigger press range, an ideal weight and size, an optimal revolver or pistol, a best method of carry for a certain gun, a revolver or semi-automatic that has a great sight radius, a best type of sights, etc. Bottom line: there is a tradeoff among the characteristics and features of the firearms on a short list for anybody… and there is NO perfect CC gun that meets all universal standards. So we all must make tradeoffs and COMPROMISES (not in quality, but) according to our personal set of values, preferences, likes and dislikes, body style and strengths, purposes, etc. Accuracy is a major factor to keep in mind.
So what gun do you prefer for CC? What are the considerations and where does one begin? Do you want a 1911 with a Single Action Only trigger with about a 4 psi light and short press with an external safety? Do you even want (or need) an external safety for a CC gun? What are the safety, accidental, and negligent discharge considerations? Is safety really only in your mind and the way you train? What about capacity? Seven or eight rounds or 12 to 15 rounds? Will there be a single or multiple attackers and what will you probably need for self defense? How about a Double Action Only trigger with a 6 to 8 pound long and heavy press, with no external safety? Do you consider a small 2-inch barrel snub nose, lightweight revolver with its concealability advantage enough to override the lower recoil of a bigger and heavier gun? Steel, alloy, or polymer barrel and/or frame? For CC do you want (or need) a 2 inch, 3 inch, 3.5 inch, or 4 inch barrel? Can you CC your favorite single-action 1911 with a 5 inch barrel? Is diameter width more important than barrel length for concealability? So many complex variables and considerations.
Here are just some of the characteristics and features that I considered for my CC gun (NOT in any priority order):
- Concealability- overall size and dimensions- full-size/compact/sub-compact;
- Weight and Design of gun;
- Trigger Type and Press- action and pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure applied;
- Rounds or Capacity;
- Barrel length;
- Concealability- gun width-diameter;
- External Safety or not and safety features;
- Amount of controllable Recoil (given personal medical concerns-wrist);
- Available holster, magazines, etc.- type and quality for your type of carry and lifestyle;
- Ergonomics for your personal comfort and effectiveness (e.g. grip type, pinky-finger extensions, hand fit);
- Available Ammo and cost (at this writing an UNKNOWN factor);
- Accuracy and Reliability out-of-the-box, without trigger jobs, new sights, etc.
Note that caliber was omitted from my list because I believe an individual should carry the highest caliber gun that they personally can most comfortably shoot ACCURATELY. I believe that ACCURACY is far more important than the type of gun, caliber, or equipment you carry, so proper training and practice are critical for any carry gun. I accept that all calibers can kill with the proper ammo and precise shot placement. Sadly, I recall when Senator Robert Kennedy was killed with one .22 LR shot to the head, the assassination attempt on President Reagan and the shots to Mr. Brady from a .22LR, and other murders with .22LR guns.
CC of Semi-Auto Pistol or Revolver
Recognizing that it is a very personal and individual decision selecting either a semi-auto or revolver for CC, consider the many pros and cons. Your opinion is just as good as mine or others, probably better for your given circumstances, hand size, medical condition, preferences, etc. I just want to share my ideas about what works for me so as to help you with your CC decision. You probably have other factors to add to mine. Maybe you want to have 3 or 4 CC guns and rotate them for CC (like I do), but make a decision about what is your “go-to” top priority CC gun? Here are the pros and cons I considered for both semi-autos and revolvers for CC.
- Easy concealability- thinner width & NO cylinder bulge
- Holds MORE cartridges-number of rounds capacity
- Faster speed of reloading with already loaded mags, saves time- no putting cartridge in each chamber
- More accessories available
- Rugged finishes & almost indestructable (e.g. melonite and tennifer)
CONS: More mechanicals to operate; must rack slide (there is a technique to help- see my related article); inoperable until clear stoppages
- Simple operation with fewer functions
- Great reliability with less mechanical operations
- Usually less expensive to purchase
- Fewer moving parts so less sensitive to lack of cleaning/maintenance
CONS: Must put round in each cylinder; speed reloader requires much practice; reloading is very dexterous operation & takes more time; holds LESS rounds; must reload more often; not as rugged as semi-auto regarding grit & grime
MY PREFERRED Features and Characteristics for CC Gun
Hope this saves you some time and effort or is a starting point for you to add and subtract your preferences. Given my priority for accuracy, frequency of practice, training time, and desire for certain features, I want to share MY preferred features by category (not in any priority order within each category.)
- Accurate out-of-the-box, without gunsmithing (trigger job, other sights, different barrel, etc.)
- Compact size and dimensions (not sub-compact or full-size) for better ergonomics & versatility
- 3 to 4 inch Barrel (helps with accuracy)
- Capacity of 9 to 15 rounds (not counting chambered round)
- Lighter Trigger Press (about 5 psi or so)
- Low Recoil (due to my carpal tunnel medical condition)
- Steel frame for better accuracy
- Comfortable carry Outside The Waistband (OWB)- my preference
- Medium Total Weight (26 oz or less)
- Easy to reload
- Cost $1,000. or less
- Readily available and reasonable cost accessories
- External safety (not a strongly desired or must-have for me)
- Interchangeable backstraps
- Match-grade barrel and trigger (depends on gun)
- Grip safety (not a strongly desired or must-have for me)
- Night sights (or fiber optic front or luminous)
Other CC Guns Considered
To help you whittle down the large number of options and get started, here is a summary chart of just some (14) of the carry guns I considered. I am very fortunate to have 6 carry guns that I rotate among, depending on the situation, potential threat/danger, weather, my attire, available ammo, wrist pain, and my whims. Love it! Have fun!
I hope my ideas and some of the options I considered will help you in making your Concealed Carry gun decisions. Remember there is no one BEST or PERFECT concealed carry gun, but the one that is best for your set of wants, situations, and preferences. SUCCESS!