6 Signs You’re Using The Wrong CCW Handgun

6 Signs You're Using The Wrong CCW Handgun

6 Signs You're Using The Wrong CCW Handgun

When I first became a concealed carrier, I did not have to do any shopping. My father gave me his .22 handgun when I finished school and moved into my own place, which needless to say, was not in the nicest neighborhood. He and I went to the shooting range every weekend so that I could get a handle on my newly acquired gift and to improve my marksmanship, should I ever had to use it for self-defense.

The first day I was given the .22 from my father, I just thought this was just me inheriting his handgun that he hardly ever used in the recent years. It was one of the last times at the range that my father revealed to me that he gave me the .22 for a reason: “I knew it would be the easiest one for you to hold and get comfortable with. Same thing happened with your mom when she went shooting for the first time with your grandpa back in the day.”

For me, I never had to research and find out what type of gun would be best suited for me. Thankfully, my father already knew and nipped that in the bud, and to this day, I still have that trusty .22 at home.

But even if you do all your pre-purchase homework and find a gun that matches your criteria, there could be a moment where you might find that an upgrade is in order. This isn’t to say that the gun is faulty or bad, but perhaps there is something that would be more appropriate, based on you, along with your CCW abilities and concerns. Here are few possible signs that it might be time to change your handgun for something better:

  1. Size

You should feel comfortable with the size of your handgun, with being able to hold, grip, shoot, have proper trigger finger placement etc. Typically, bigger pistols have more accuracy because of their fit and the reduced recoil. With a large pistol, you also have the benefit of a longer sight plane. However, when it comes to your CCW, a smaller gun might be more handy when carrying. Concealing a smaller pistol will be easier, and there’s less weight to carry compared to a larger gun.

If your gun feels too big or heavy for any of the above, then it might be a good idea to consider finding something that will fit you better, both with shooting and concealed carrying.

Read Also: Top 21 concealed Carry Guns: Comparisons and Rankings

  1. Caliber

Smaller calibers mean less recoil, faster and more accuracy. Larger calibers will inflict more energy and damage. The type of caliber is primarily based on the user’s preferences, but considering what you aim (no pun intended) for with your CCW, it is good to examine what sort of caliber would meet your standards. If you’re looking for fast follow-up shots and more chances of accuracy, then perhaps starting off or switching to something small might help. If you need something with a lot of force and penetration, then definitely look into the larger calibers.

  1. Accuracy

This might be one of the most important factors when it comes to purchasing and/or upgrading your firearm. While you might be hitting up the range for practice on a regular basis, your accuracy could suffer because of poor compatibility between you and your gun. Particularly for those experienced with handguns, if you notice that you are lacking either point shoot or sighted accuracy, maybe it is because the gun is too heavy, too big in size, too big in caliber, etc. Lack of accuracy should motivate any CCW user to consider finding a gun that is more appropriate for their individual characteristics and needs.

  1. Recoil

Nearly every first-time gun user will have to take some time adjusting to their gun’s recoil after they shoot. However, if after time, the recoil is still slowing you down and not allowing you to have quick, more accurate follow-up shots, then this could be a sign to find something different (maybe even something smaller than what you normally carry).

  1. Bullets & Accessories

Bullets play a big role on choosing the right firearm for yourself. There are no perfect bullet types and every sort of bullet will have its pros and cons. The question is whether or not the type of bullet gives you as the individual carrier more pros. Important things to consider with your bullets: weight, penetration, energy, shape, projection and distance, and more.

  1. Maintenance

If cleaning, dismantling and caring for your handgun is a difficult and infrequent chore for you, then it could be time to look for something a little more low maintenance. For your gun to last long, and to remain powerful and functioning, it is important to apply some TLC. For a great step-by-step guide, check out this Wiki article.

Read Also: Pistol Maintenance: Key Lubrication Points

When you find your comfort levels are dropping with your gun, it is time to look into something that you can handle better. Changing guns doesn’t mean you need something bigger or stronger necessarily. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a mediocre CCW user. Every gun owner is different, and sometimes we just need to find the right gun that will complete us.

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Smith & Wesson M&p Shield 9mm

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Hannah Dustin enjoys long walks on the beach with her Beretta Nano and puggle, Michael. She is currently pursuing her masters in American Literature and would rather be at the range than writing her dissertation.
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This was a great article. And it also had a lot of good info as well. I have friends ask me about what type of firearm I would recommend for a firearm. And I always ask them what they are going to be using it for. And then I talk to them about all of the different types and what there pros and cons are about each of them. But I also always tell them that it all comes down to whichever one that they feel the most comfortable with and that they like the best. I recently had a friend do this. She was looking for a gun. And asked me what would be the best one for her to get. She had looked at a .38spl revolver. And she asked me about it. I asked her what she wanted it for? And she said that she wanted it Protection and for target shooting. And we talked about the pros and cons of it vs a semi-auto. But in the end I told her to get the one that she liked the best. And she did get the .38spl revolver that she liked the best. And she loves the gun that she got.


Would like to have seen “rounds and accessories” instead of “Bullets”, takes away from your credibility on the topic a little. Jmho, thanks for the great article.

PJ Malvey

Exactly the point I was going to make. Got to that point and stopped reading.

David K

Learn a lot that way, eh?

David K

This article was not necessarily written for “experts” like you. His credibility did not suffer at all while yours did.


Thank you for being negative instead of offering any tangible information.


Also this article was written by a women. Maybe pay attention when criticizing someone else.


Actually, I think that mrbreakdown has a point and David K is being too quick to judge. Although there are many types of bullets available for different rounds, the combination that is right for a person is sometimes hard to find. Although I loved the look and feel of my current .40, the recoil at first was a bit much. I had to try several rounds before I found the load/bullet combination that I liked and now love the shooting as much (and much more accurately) as the other aspects of it.


just carry a 10mm hollow point or plastic tip and you only have to hit them once anywhere !!!!


When I’m asked about what to carry, I take to person to my local range that rents guns and let them try. First is for feel, weight and bulk. Then they shoot to test for target acquisition, sight alignment and recoil management. Almost all modern ammunition will get the intended job done. It is a matter of what they will want to shoot and carry along with the acquisition and ammunition costs.


I never claimed to be an expert, but when writing an article about firearms; regardless of intended audience, correct terms should be used. I also put JMHO (just my honest opinion) and thanks for the article. It was constructive criticism, yours is not. But thank you for you opinion.


Not a bad article, although I think the title could be better, maybe something like “Six things you should consider when you select a handgun.”

But, they are all valid points and it is a good read for a new shooter.


Decent article overall, but I have to quibble about this part:
Larger calibers will inflict more energy and damage. […] If you need something with a lot of force and penetration, then definitely look into the larger calibers.

Not really, no. The difference in terminal ballistics (i.e. what happens when the projectile hits the target) between a 9mm and a .45 are almost negligible, especially with good defensive ammunition. You’re comparing a small, fast bullet with a slower, heavier one. In physics terms, the kinetic force is pretty much the same; the additional velocity of a 9mm makes up for the .45’s extra mass. Force is comparable, penetration is comparable.

And a .357 Magnum (which has the same bullet diameter as a 9mm) hits harder than either of them, due to higher velocities (with attendant heightened recoil).

Carry what you can shoot comfortably and accurately and afford to practice with. A hit (or two or three) with a .22 is better than a miss (or two or three) with a .45.


How dare you say that a 9mm bullet has the same diameter as a .357? I watch TV and those “forensic” types pull out a bullet and immediately label it! Of course a 9mm (.354 or .355 caliber) is a whole .002″ smaller than a .357 and I’m sure it’s obvious to those “experts.” Probably the same ones who show a snub-nose used to shoot a man on top a five-story building – who will then fall forward.


I’m concerned about the safety implications in this photo and how that might set a poor example for a new shooter. Normally one would wear eye and ear protection (and often a hat) while shooting on the range, but that’s missing here. If this was a “staged” photo and the person is not actually shooting, then her finger should be indexed and not on the trigger. JMHO.

Dennis Daily

Like to see a little more about cc holsters. Learned a valuable lesson after buying my ATI titan this spring. Haven’t been able to locate a cc holster for it anywhere. Love the gun, but afraid its going to go down the road since there is no way to carry it. Something to think about and research before buying.


I certainly agree that the 22LR, and even the S&W32 or 38special are excellent rounds to train with as a beginner. The 22LR being the best with regard to cost per round, but all these rounds are reasonably easy to handle by most anyone with regard to recoil (provided you are not using the high powered variants of them). With the thankfully falling prices of ammo, even the 9mm and 380 are becoming reasonably affordable to practice with more often (if you buy ready to shoot ammo). I practice with my 22 SA or revolver every time I go to the range for at least 100 rounds. Then I move on to the larger caliber(s) and a shoot 100 rounds or so. Comfort in the hand and ability to easily operate all the controls of the firearm are paramount as is the ability to conceal it comfortably and access it without hindrance, if needed.

james lagnese

Carry what you can shoot well and conceal well comfortably, which can change with climate/location. Here in AZ, Carrying a 1911 is more of a PITA, so a LC9 works better. Whatever works.

Mark in Iowa

Really nice article. I I needed a change: I stopped carrying my CCW. I didn’t enjoy shooting it (round gave too much kick; solidly built sidearm felt like I was carrying a lead brick; seemed more like a chore to go to the range for practice; one spent shell casing out of ten ejected would hit me in the head; though super reliable, none of my friends had ever heard of the manufacturer; it didn’t seem to fit ANY holster on Earth; it stayed at home while I carried a can of pepper spray (not to the range, for SD) or I’d, at best, leave it in the car). Now I pack a .32 semiautomatic and I love it!

PS For sale: Sccy cx2 9mm pistol. Durable, reliable. Under $200 w partial trade plus cash considered.