How Much Should I Spend On A Concealed Carry Gun?

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How Much Should I Spend On A Concealed Carry Gun?

How much money should a person part with for a concealed carry gun? It’s a worthy enough question, since a carry gun is a different tool than a mere range toy. The truth is that there are subjective qualities in a carry pistol that aren’t necessarily cost-dependent, so you could spend comparatively little on a gun you’ll actually carry.

You could also spend a lot and hate the thing.

Concealed Carry Handgun Should Be Easy To Carry, Easy To Shoot Well

There are two primary factors that a person should look for in a concealed carry handgun. It should be relatively easy for you to carry and relatively easy to shoot well. These are the subjective qualities in a handgun that should be met, and arguably HAVE to be met, regardless of cost.

If a gun isn’t easy to carry, then you’ll find an excuse not to carry it. Not everyone, after all, wants to tote around a Government 1911. That’s an awful lot of gun; upward of four pounds fully loaded. Granted, many people do carry a full-size pistol concealed, so it’s not impossible. It’s just that a compact or sub-compact is easier to carry.

Unless you pocket carry, a good holster and a good gun belt will be required, and not every holster nor every gun belt is suited for every person.

Shooting a gun well is both being able to put rounds on target and the relative ease of shooting the pistol. Again, a full-size pistol, and especially a full-size 9mm pistol, is going to be easy to shoot. A tiny .380, however, has less mass to absorb recoil and thus will be a bit “snappy.”

Some people, again, have no problem carrying a full-size pistol year round. Some people carry a full-size in winter months, when concealing one under layers is easier. However, most people find that they have to find something between a pocket gun that’s easy to carry but difficult to shoot and a gun that’s too big for carry but easy to shoot.

That’s why compact and subcompact 9mm pistols are all the rage right now. They’re big enough to shoot an adequate caliber comfortably and accurately enough for most people, whilst also being light enough for most people to carry comfortably. However, these things are totally up to you – no gun writer is going to be able to know or predict what the perfect gun for you will be.

The Perfect Carry Gun Could Be Cheap Or Could Be Expensive


Given the subjective qualities mentioned above, the perfect carry gun could be something cheap or something expensive. For instance, some people refuse to carry anything other than a Wilson Combat, STI, Les Baer or custom-tuned Colt 1911. Nothing wrong with those guns, but not everyone has or would even be willing to spend $2,000 or more on a pistol.

Polymer-framed, single-stack 9mm pistols are all the rage for carrying. Guns like the Glock 26, the Glock 43, the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield, Springfield XDS and Sig P250 Subcompact are wildly popular carry pistols because they’re small, light and accurate. They’re also available at nearly every gun store you can find and cheap, as virtually all can be had for $600 or less.

Some people are fine with carrying a $200 Hi-Point, and some people want something more like the compact variants of the CZ-75 or Beretta PX4 Storm pistols, which are usually just a bit more (but not by much) than the plastic striker guns mentioned above.

You’ll have to find out what the best gun for you is going to be for yourself. One of the best things to do is find a gun store or range that allows rentals. Try a few out, and find a gun that you can shoot easily and well enough that’s also small and light enough so that you think you can carry it.

However, there’s one more thing you need to be aware of.

Spend What You Can Afford To Lose On A Handgun


If you’re ever involved in a defensive shooting, there’s a chance you won’t get your handgun back. It will almost certainly be taken into evidence by police. What will happen while it’s in evidence…is unknowable and certainly out of your control. It may come back more or less just how it went in. It may come back beyond repair.

That’s IF you get it back. You might get a check for something like the value of the gun instead.

So what should you spend on a carry gun? An amount that you can afford to lose.

Bear in mind that a carry gun is a tool, not an heirloom. Like any tool, you should be prepared to replace it if necessary. It’s fine to have guns that you’re sentimental about and there are many guns that have become family heirlooms, but your primary carry gun ideally would not be one of them.

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  • I didn’t think a 1911 was 4lbs loaded. Somewhere close to 3lbs, ok.

    • BrotherLazarus

      Pretty sure mine only clocks in at three and a half, but the article could be pointing towards models with all the bells and whistles (individually, higher end sights can actually get to the point of non-negligible weight)–and using 8+1 now that they’re starting to issue factory 8 round mags instead of the older 7 round mags.

      The real disadvantage is having to switch between an IWB and retention holster when the weather gets cold–fortunately my winter coat doesn’t print with the retention belt holster, and my shirts don’t print with the IWB holster (other than the usual potential when stooping or stretching for something) so… I’m comfortable skipping the compacts and subcompacts, personally.

      • Mikial

        Agreed. My EDC is a G21.

        • BrotherLazarus

          Good choice. I miss my Glock but I’ve been packing a 1911 for so long that JMB’s firing controls are ingrained to the point where I’d have issues carrying one again.

          Thinking I might move forward a whopping 30 years and pick up a Hi-Power though. Same gross motor movements during the draw (swipe down to fire), close enough design to operate without too much re-training.

          • Mikial

            Yeah, that’s a good solution if you’re looking for more capacity with the same controls.

  • Green Hornet

    Trying different gun at the range is helpful but until you carry for awhile you won’t know
    So as noted get what you can afford, save up for another gun, note here that the accessories can be expensive as well

    • Ammo costs factor in too. Some calibers are cheaper to buy than others. While I dig the idea of the Bulldog, 44 Special is expensive to shoot. 9mm is cheaper, even 45 acp is too.

  • Dingus

    My belief is the same. if you have to use it, GOD forbid!) don’t ever expect to get it back. Plain and simple. Spend the least amount you can on a gun that has a low probability to fail on you at the critical moment. maintain it like it is made of gold so it stays in perfect function but never by the most expensive thing you can find either. Nothing flashy because that is the best way to guarentee never getting it back.

    • So I guess I shouldn’t use my hunting rifles. I am more attached to them than the pistols for some reason, although a 444 Marlin would probably be fairly effective. :-O

      • Alan Lynn

        I love the Marlin! I used it for wok for several years.

        • For work? What job was that?

          • Alan Lynn

            Long haul armored car. Miles and Miles of miles and miles. When seconds count do it yourself

          • Cool. I remember when I first got the 444, I went to the range and a NYPD cop was there. I let him shoot it and he thought it would make a great patrol car rifle.

          • Alan Lynn

            It really would. Maybe a Chuck Conners mod? Nah, that would be over kill

          • Just open sights and the Hornady 265gr FP load, which is 2400fps.

            www hornady com/store/444-Marlin-265-gr-interlock-FP-Superformance

          • Alan Lynn

            A brush gun, the big bullet doesn’t deflect…much. But as Tom Horn said, a trajectory like a rainbow at long range.

          • Yeah, one of my favorite westerns. Social work is fairly close. It would be fine. If I needed a long range hammer, there are other choices. I might get a 8mm Remington Mag. Equal to a 308 at the muzzle at 500 yards, but…I love the Marlin. I got .75-1″ 5 shot groups with handloads that use the 265 hornady at 2300. With that kind of accurancy, 100 yards and under is easy work. Social work would be less than 50 yards…Probably less than 25.

      • tmsassoc

        Totally different issue. While it is not impossible to find yourself in a self defense situation while hunting the odds of such are very long (or at least use to be, in today’s world what people will try to take from someone else has gotten muddled).

        • I wasn’t talking about a situation while hunting, but my home where I grabbed the 444 instead of the Commander.

      • G50AE

        During the Vietnam War, SOG soldier Jerry “Mad-dog” Shriver was known to have obtained a 444 Marlin for bunker busting. This was probably the only lever action riffle used during the entire war.

  • Steve Merrette

    We at Florida Carry, Inc. are currently looking at the issue of the firearm being confiscated after a defensive shooting in Florida. If there has been no crime committed, in other words, no charges filed for a valid defensive shooting, then there is no reason, nor no law that allows the police to take your property. This arose after the recent case where a good Samaritan shot and killed a suspect who was in the process of beating a sheriff’s deputy. A local gun store stepped up and donated a new firearm to the good samaritan after the shooting as his was taken by the police as “evidence”. The problem with this scenario is that there were no charges filed against the good samaritan, the entire incident was caught on the deputy’s dashcam so there is no question as to what happened. Also the Sheriff personally thanked the individual for helping to save the deputy’s life. So why should they take the person’s property? Again no law or even case law has been found to support this action.

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  • Steve Merrette is correct, and in addition to that, I think your premise that you should buy something you can afford to lose is wrong and sending the wrong message. Should you not be telling all the people that read your article that they should buy a firearm that they like, will carry and is reliable and high quality? Instead of letting price that you can afford to lose be your guide, think of it this way, “What is your life worth to you?” Spend as much as you want, or can afford to get a good, quality, well built firearm. Your life and your families life is worth as much as you can afford, this is a life saving device, not a throw away tool.

    • tmsassoc

      The author did come down on the side of “reliable and will carry” in the article. High quality can be a bit of a subjective issue. At the same time if I could afford a $2000.00 dollar custom gun it wouldn’t be my everyday carry gun regardless of how comfortable it might be to carry since if I spent that much for a gun I don’t want to find myself in a position that I might lose it. Very few people can afford to be throwing around $2000.00 or more each for a collection of guns. I, in fact, am still saving up for the Glock I want and they aren’t all that expensive in most peoples eyes but when you are retired on Social Security the pennies count.

      • Mikial

        Agree completely. At least this article does make the point that there are reliable and accurate guns available for a few hundred dollars. For a long time it seemed like every article you read was someone telling you that you needed at least a $1600 Kimber, and $150 holster and several training programs at $750 to $1200 a whack or else you were pathetic and unprepared. All that stuff is great, but people on a lower budget have the right to defend themselves too and a good police trade-in Glock or Beretta, a $65 Crossbreed IWB holster and some time at USPSA meets will provide both a solid pistol and some experience doing more than standing in a booth and shooting at paper down a lane. Not ideal perhaps, but much better than waiting until you have a couple of thousand dollars saved up to buy a gun and carry daily. And the money you save can go for more practice ammo.

  • Pistolero

    No matter how much or how little you spend on a gun, at least give it some small effort at maintenance. Am I the only one who noticed the obviously rusty bore and muzzle of the gun in the top pic?

    • It looks like it’s threaded.

      • Pistolero

        Yeah, that’s strange, it looks like internal threads. Not like for a suppressor. Even so, looks like rust inside. Hate rusty guns!

    • Mikial

      Nope, I noticed that as well. I often wonder how many of the photos used for some of these articles are “stock” photos pulled from some file folder.

  • Alan Lynn

    1 is none and 2 is one. When it goes bad it goes all the way bad. Having your main gun unavailable for any reason will make you wish you had a backup.

    • If it comes down to it, I’ll use what is available.

      • Alan Lynn

        Absolutely! Anything is better than nothing, but having a good choice at hand is always better than being caught short

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