If you’re an avid reader of USA Carry and other 2A blogs, you’re likely to hear about all the premium high-speed, super modified custom rigs people carry. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great Dan Wesson 1911 with custom engravings and all the rest — but it’s not at all necessary to become a concealed carrier.
Let’s take a pause and just look at the rough, approximated costs to just get that beloved concealed carry permit in your wallet. Obviously, numbers will adjust depending upon where you live and the particular process you go through.
Application Fee: $10-$80
CCW Course: $80-$200+*
Background Checks: $25-$80**
*Note: Not all states require a CCW Course
**Some states include this with the application fee, some don’t.
So, administratively, you’re looking at a cost of somewhere around $90 to $330+ in order to meet all the requirements for your state to get your concealed carry permit. This number will jump around a bit — some much lower and some slightly higher — but after it’s all said and done that’s still a significant drop in the bucket.
Just Your First Month As A Concealed Carrier
After you get your permit, you’re going to still be recouping those costs. So, let’s look at some of the required equipment to really competently carry everyday for just that first month.
- 200-500 rounds of FMJ ammunition (range practice)
- 50 rounds of self-defense ammunition (Jacketed Hollow Point or similar)
- A pistol or revolver
- A custom-fit high-retention kydex holster or similar
- At least one backup magazine — ideally two
- Gun lock or safe
- Pistol cleaning kit with lubricant and brushes
You need all of these pieces, realistically, to conceal carry. There’s no piece out of this first month’s expense that you can really go without. A gun without ammunition is worthless. A concealed carry pistol without a reliable holster is a disaster waiting to happen. Operating a gun without at least one backup magazine is silly. And if you don’t practice with the gun you carry at the range — at least once a month — then you don’t understand how it will perform if you actually need it.
This is where you need to understand what your budget is and work accordingly. Let’s do a thought process for a “cheap as dirt” run-through.
Example “Cheap As Dirt” Budget: The Bersa Thunder .380 ACP
New, it retails for around $300 and is a reliable sub-compact pistol. For 200 rounds of full metal jacket ammunition, you could expect to reasonably pay $70-90 (depending on market value at the time). For your self-defense ammunition that you keep in your everyday carry magazines, you only need one box of 20-50 rounds. These rounds you don’t take to the range and just keep solely for loading into the gun when you carry it around — so they should last you awhile. The Bersa Thunder comes out of the box with 2 magazines and includes a gun lock.
You can get a set of cleaning gear and some gun cleaning lubricant for less than $12.
So, realistically, you could expect to pay:
$300 — Bersa Thunder .380 ACP w/ gun lock & 2 standard magazines
$85 — 200 rounds FMJ ammunition
$20 — 20 rounds of self-defense ammunition
$35 — High-retention inside the waistband concealed carry holster
$12 — Cleaning gear & lubricant
It’s possible to go cheaper. You may find a gun that’s used or you may go with something extremely budget like a Hi-Point. Personally, I’d always advocate to find the right pistol for your style and setting a realistic budget for that. It’s better to carry a gun you feel confident in rather than carry a gun you don’t trust (or has a bad record of performance).
Budget Concealed Carry Strategies
The good news? Most new firearms you buy at the gun store will come with an additional magazine right off the bat. The Glock Gen 4s, for instance, usually come with 3 magazines. Ask the shop clerk how many magazines come with the gun. If the answer is one — consider another model.
When shopping for a firearm, also consider how common it is. The more common a firearm is, the more companies make holsters and equipment for it. Almost every holster manufacturer on the market makes a Glock 19 or 26 holster. There’s a handful that make inside the waistband holsters that fit an FNH 45.
A third consideration is ammunition style. The cheapest ammunition — outside of .22LR — is usually 9 x 19 mm Luger. This is quickly followed by .38 Spc, .380 ACP, and .40 S&W. There are certainly exceptions but generally when shopping for a pistol or revolver, consider the actual cost to practice with it. If you buy a unique caliber size, like the 10mm or a .32 caliber, there’s not a lot of market demand so supply is limited. If you get something chambered in 9 x 19mm Luger, you have a high probability of picking up a box of 1000 rounds surplus ammunition for as little as $180. So, do the math. Think by the numbers.
And the last consideration is your ability to secure the weapon. If the firearm isn’t going to be on your person, it needs to be locked up. That’s for your safety and the safety of anyone else living in your house. A gun doesn’t just grow legs and hop out of the nightstand, but it can certainly be picked up by the wrong set of hands if you’re not careful. Most guns come with, at a basic, a gun-lock. Keep a set of those gun lock keys and make copies to give to your significant other or a trusted family member.
It’s possible to get all the equipment and permitting, from start to finish, for less than $500. That’s not an insignificant number but it is an attainable one. Budget, shop around, ask lots of questions and don’t be afraid to keep shopping around until you find the perfect fit. This is your life. You can protect it on a budget.