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.