Concealed Carry Firearms... some points to ponder

breamfisherbreamfisher Senior MemberPosts: 12,477 Senior Member
Looking around on social media, reading this and other forums, listening in at gun shops, and reading magazines, I've noticed something interesting about concealed carry firearms.

A lot of the folks who are just getting into carrying a firearm regularly tend to go small. I'm talking J-frames, Ruger LCP, Kel-Tecs, Walther PPK, maybe a pocket-carry Kahr or one of the sub-compact Glocks if they're looking for a "full-size" cartridge, but usually it's something that's easy to conceal. I understand: they're easier to conceal. You get your pocket rocket, get a pocket holster from the LGS, a spare mag if you feel like you need it, and you're in business. Most shops will have all the gear you need so you can do one stop shopping and be on your way, safe in the knowledge you are armed and ready.

Or are you? Most of those small firearms require a diligent operator to shoot well. Yes, it can be done as Eli and others have demonstrated. But it takes a fair amount of time at the range and in dry fire, and money in the form of ammo and/or a rimfire understudy to develop the skills to utilize the firearm at more than get off me distances. The sights are small, the trigger is usually poor and heavy due to design limitations, there's less to hold onto, leading to a less stable shooting platform, they may be finicky about ammo or how they're held, the cartridges may be less powerful, they're slower on follow-up shots, the list goes on.

But then I look at most of the folks who are top trainers or end users. Their concealed carry firearm is a full-size or slightly abbreviated version (Glock 19 or 23, Colt Commander being three examples.) Sure, you have to dress around the firearm more. And you may need to search for a holster and belt that you can't get at the store, and that will cost you more. But a lot of the negatives of the little shooters... go away. You're still stuck with a handgun, but one that's more user-friendly.

Why is it that we, as a shooting community, settle for advising handguns that run counter to what the "pros" tend to favor? I'm not saying the little guns don't have their place - they do - but I'm not sure it's as a primary firearm or a general use one. Why do we advise for a platform that may be setting up people, not to fail, but to have a harder time succeeding?

Is it because of conventional wisdom? Because it is easier? When I worked at a dive shop, I sold buoyancy compensating vests (BCs) and regulators - pricey stuff. If a person came in and wanted a piece of gear, I didn't just sell them a "traditional" setup. I talked with them: what's their experience level, how often do they dive, what sort of diving do they do now, what sort of diving do they plan on getting into, the list goes on. It the diver no good to sell a new diver a BC capable of supporting twin steel 120s, two top-end regulators, and a wireless integrated computer if they were new, small, and just going to dive coral reefs at a maximum depth of 60 feet. So why don't we ask folks similar questions when they ask for gear to carry: what's your normal level of dress, what's your experience, etc.? Yes, it's more work, but you have a better chance of getting a more workable option than floundering around in a sea of misinformation.
Overkill is underrated.


  • BAMAAKBAMAAK Senior Member Posts: 3,891 Senior Member
    I read a very good story on a home invasion. Guy thought he had the right ammo for SD, Gold Dots. Long story short, he emptied his pocket pistol, LC9, hitting the guy 3 times, his car tire and widow none of those Gold Dots expanded. Barrel is to short to burn the powder and develop sufficient velocity.
    "He only earns his freedom and his life Who takes them every day by storm."

    -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and politician
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 17,855 Senior Member
    Let's compare carrying a firearm for self defense to buying a car to drive to the emergency room in case of an accident at home and parking it in the driveway, then waiting for the accident to happen before trying to learn to drive it. Just buying the gun, regardless of whether or not its size is appropriate for the situation, is just the beginning. I remember an encounter at a LGS where I used to shop pretty regularly when two young ladies came in looking for a home defense gun. Neither one of them intended to carry- - - -they just wanted something to use in case of a home invasion situation. Apparently, the apartment complex in Nashville where they lived had been the scene of some problems and they wanted to be prepared in case they had to defend themselves.

    The counter guy was busy with making a gun sale- - - -4473, background check call, etc., so I volunteered to keep them occupied until he was available. They were leaning toward purchasing a small handgun, but it became obvious very quickly that neither of them had any experience whatsoever with firearms. I showed them the basics of operating a youth-sized 20 gauge shotgun that was on the bargain rack, and both of them caught on pretty quickly. They spent a little time on the indoor shooting range with one of the store employees, and ended up buying a similar pump shotgun, a brand new one, and both of them signed up for a basic gun handling and self-defense course the store offered. I'm pretty sure neither one of them had considered purchasing anything other than a mouse gun before our conversation.
    Hide and wail in terror, Eloi- - - -We Morlocks are on the hunt!
    ASK-HOLE Someone who asks for advice and always does something opposite
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 15,016 Senior Member
    And then there's the guy who was shot by a burgler (.380 if I remember), who returned fire with an NAA .22LR revolver - and won the battle.
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"
    "Religion can't be allowed the coercive power of government,
    government can't be allowed the 'moral' justification of religion."
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 17,855 Senior Member
    Just like real estate- - - -location- - - -location- - - -location! A good hit with a mouse gun beats a miss with a magnum!
    Hide and wail in terror, Eloi- - - -We Morlocks are on the hunt!
    ASK-HOLE Someone who asks for advice and always does something opposite
  • bobbyrlf3bobbyrlf3 Senior Member Posts: 2,410 Senior Member
    Can't say I disagree with your thoughts. Taking advantage of the knowledge I've gained from participating in this forum, I make a point of advising anyone who asks me for recommendations that they should go to the range to try a few different things, or I go with them when I have time. I tell them not to buy anything before they have a chance to try different platforms, so they don't waste time & money on something that won't adequately serve their needs.

    I had a friend who wanted a 10mm to take hiking with him for possible bear encounters. He didn't listen to that advice and went from an EAA Witness to a Dan Wesson bobtail commander, and finally to a Glock G20. It was a pretty expensive way to get to what he really needed and was comfortable with.
    Knowledge is essential to living freely and fully; understanding gives knowledge purpose and strength; wisdom is combining the two and applying them appropriately in words and actions.
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 15,016 Senior Member
    This thread interests me, as I'm going through the thought process for a carry piece myself - and consider myself a tyro at best. With that said, I'm leaning towards a G43 or similar. I shoot that class of pistol as well as anything - if not a bit better as it seems to *me* that polymer guns shoot softer than their steel counterparts - even larger steel counterparts - so I don't seem to have any problem with the smaller sized gun.
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"
    "Religion can't be allowed the coercive power of government,
    government can't be allowed the 'moral' justification of religion."
  • cpjcpj Senior Member Posts: 36,377 Senior Member
    I tend to advise people away from the tiny guns. Especially non gun folks. While a small .380 will do the job, a magazine or two of shooting isn't fun for a lot of folks. So they don't practice. I lean not towards the chopped down versions of big guns, but the single stack models that you can actually get your complete hand on when I recommend something.
    But when all else fails, any gun beats no gun.
    "I'm here for the guns, hunting, and skirt wearing men."
  • horselipshorselips Senior Member Posts: 3,461 Senior Member
    I'll take my chances with either of my small, light, pocket guns - my NAA Mini Revolver in .22WMR or my Taurus 738 TCP in .380ACP. Whatever their faults or shortcomings, and because of their advantages, I never leave home without one of them. Never. If you have to dress around your gun, odds are, you're sooner or later going to leave it home, and given Murphy's Law ...
  • tubabucknuttubabucknut Banned Posts: 3,520 Senior Member
    I never recommend a pocket gun to new shooters. It seems to be all they want to buy. Oh well.
    It's because I hate Trump.
  • NCFUBARNCFUBAR Senior Member Posts: 4,138 Senior Member
    On more than a few occasions less experienced shooters walk in and ask the guy behind the counter for a specific gun because a relative or friend told them that is what they need to buy. I can see the counter guy just going with their choice because it is a sale and easier than basically saying that the information they had been given was not the best. Also the shop could be swamped 2 or 3 deep and the guy just churns them out. Then some get lucky and have a counter guy pull what Teach said above and do more of "fitting" a gun for the customer's needs, size and abilities. My favorite LGS has a guy that will "chat" with people while gathering information to fit them best. He'll pull out what they ask but will somehow pull out a few options that "they might also think about". He'll sell them what they ask for if that is absolutely what they want but he'll do his best to make sure they are happy. He says he does not want to be the guy that "sold me a crappy gun" and have that on his business reputation. He also HATES husbands buying guns for their wives ...
    “The further a society drifts from truth ... the more it will hate those who speak it."
    - George Orwell
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 15,016 Senior Member
    I was in my LGS/Range, they were fairly busy, and a guy walks up to me and starts asking me "which handgun should I buy?" type questions. I told him that the very best thing he (and his wife who was with him) could do was to enroll in the LGS's monthly "introduction to firearms" class. I explained to him that would give them a chance to shoot and handle various handguns and more importantly, learn about them and how to handle them safely. He looked VERY relieved as he walked up to the teacher I had pointed out earlier...
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"
    "Religion can't be allowed the coercive power of government,
    government can't be allowed the 'moral' justification of religion."
  • kansashunterkansashunter Senior Member Posts: 1,242 Senior Member
    What I have seen at my local lgs is most people have already made up their mind even though they don't know anything. I have also seen 2 men come in and look at several and pick the cheapest. My lgs is a 1 man shop but he will help you if you are willing to listen or he rents pistols but most don't seem to be interested. My wife has been carrying my 380 and she could do better but I couldn't get her to carry anything at all before this so it is better than nothing, I hope.
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 22,385 Senior Member
    I got turned off by mouse guns after I held one :popcorn:
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 16,439 Senior Member
    I let people handle and shoot different ones from my collection and let them decide what fits their hand the best. Then I point them towards a similar one
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.

  • john9001john9001 Senior Member Posts: 668 Senior Member
    I have been carrying my J- frame for 25 years.
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 9,526 Senior Member
    When I see a new shooter with a subcompact pistol, I just assume that they will likely never be able to shoot worth a hoot.

    Why? Because I was a pretty decent shooter with a full size pistol or revolver when I bought my first subcompact, and I could not shoot it worth a hoot. So, I bought a Walther P-22 and fired hundreds of .22 rounds through it before my skills were good enough to make me confident with a subcompact 9mm or .45. I kinda got into it, wanting to challenge myself to shoot with a small pistol, and now own several of them that I shoot pretty well when I am getting regular practice. I just don't think that most newbies will enjoy shooting a small handgun enough to practice as much as is needed.
  • jbohiojbohio Senior Member Posts: 5,320 Senior Member
    Bream, your point is a good one.
    My thoughts.
    I do sometimes recommend mouse guns to new shooters, when asked. IF I gather in talking to them that there's not much chance of them practicing. I do, however, steer people away from .380 and smaller.
    Basically, if they're not going to practice with, and dress around a bigger gun, it does them no good. Get them something small, that they will carry, at least.
  • FisheadgibFisheadgib Senior Member Posts: 4,902 Senior Member
    knitepoet wrote: »
    I let people handle and shoot different ones from my collection and let them decide what fits their hand the best. Then I point them towards a similar one

    This is pretty well what I do. Debbie has several school teacher friends that we've had out to the ranch to try different guns or shoot the one they bought under someone else's recommendation and it's rare for someone to be content with whatever they brought after trying other options. The worse one was a woman who went to a LGS in Crestview and told them that she wanted a simple, small gun for home defense as she's a single mom who lives in a trailer on a couple acres. They sold her a Cobra .22mag Deringer. She had it in a drawer for over a year, unfired, and after talking to other people, she decided that she needed something with more capacity and went back to the same shop and they sold her a Ruger .22-45! She brought them both out to the ranch to finally shoot them and discovered that the Deringer wouldn't fire! There were two slight dimples on the cases from the firing pins but they weren't enough to set the rounds off. She took it back to the shop and they told her that she had bought the wrong ammo! (they sold her the gun and the ammo) They also told her that since it's been over a year, she would have to send the pistol back to the manufacturer to get repaired. Now this woman has bought two guns by a "professionals" recommendation and can't afford to buy something that would better serve her needs. At least the Ruger fires.
    snake284 wrote: »
    For my point of view, cpj is a lot like me
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Posts: 8,425 Senior Member
    If you think, ''Well, I'm just going to the store and my pistol has been bothering my back/side/stomach/whatever. I won't carry it just for this little trip.'' You don't have anything.

    I started off with a full sized gun. A Para Carry. At first I wore it OWB since it was winter and I could cover it with a flannel. When I went IWB, it hurt. Then I tied a XD40SC, it wasn't comfortable. I traded the LDA for a PM9 and while I can't shoot it as accurately as the XD, I can and do carry it all of the time. Even the PM9 isn't comfortable sometimes. It makes sore spots on my fattness. I tried several holsters for each. From Crossbreeds to High Noons. I absolutely can't wear past 9:00 (lefty) or it hurts my back. Walking is great, just can't sit in a car seat.

    I knew from day 1 my wife wouldn't dress to carry. Didn't even like my PM9. So we got her a P380, and she does carry it most of the time.


    The NAA Guardian I got for pocket carry. I don't wear hugely oversize, baggy, or pleated pants so it was very noticeable. With the 10# trigger, stiff recoil, and nearly non-existent sights, it went bye-bye.
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 6,537 Senior Member
    Where to begin. . .

    If you don't "live it", carrying a concealed gun can be a pain in the ass. You modify your dress, your behavior, the places you go, etc... Sure, the bigger gun may be the choice of the "diligent operator", but it requires the skills and dedication of that "diligent operator" not to look like a clown when carrying it. You plan to carry it a lot, and hopefully never shoot it for real at all. Given that, how smart, really, is recommending a duty gun for CCW?

    The simple fact is that if you're not trying to be a "diligent operator", you're likely going to suck with whatever you pull out. You can suck with a Glock 19 that's going to get you burned by someone who knows how to look (may be friendly, may be a dirtbag) because you don't know how to carry it, or you can suck with a PPK that no one knows is there, and doesn't force additional major changes to your lifestyle. The diligent operator may actually pick the smaller gun because "Hey, WWI was launched with two FMJ .380 rounds. I can actually hit with a J-frame at 40 yards. . .Why on earth would I want to lug this boat anchor all day?"

    Deploying the little gun WELL requires modifying your life with range time and ammo expense. Deploying the big gun WELL may require modifying your life with a little less range time and ammo expense, but requires major changes and expenses elsewhere. A likely circle of events would have one starting with a small gun for convenience and a decent fit with the low understanding of how to carry. This would be followed by carrying the larger gun when the realization sets in that the skill level isn't as high as we've learned is sometimes required, but the understanding of what is needed to carry it has increased. A lot of folks get here and stay here. More advanced folks may return to the smaller gun when the confidence gets higher; they realize they don't actually live in Beirut; or they think the matter over and realize "if I can't solve it with 5-7 rounds, it's probably not ending in my favor even if I do have the boat anchor".

    First rule of gunfighting - have a gun. What's appropriate for you ain't appropriate for all.

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 9,242 Senior Member
    Yeah, I don't always pack a gun, mostly I don't. I can't remember one instance in my county where a SD situation involved a CCW. I approve of the Firearms License issued here, and have had one since 1972 or so. When I was a cop, I toted a CCW constantly, and yes, it's a pain in the ass.

    I never carry extra magazines as I figure (whenever I carry) If needed to reload, I've lost already. I don't practice at 25 yards, either. That's about 20 yards outside my SD range.

    When I feel like it, I carry. I don't look upon it as a ritual, though.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • horselipshorselips Senior Member Posts: 3,461 Senior Member
    bisley wrote: »
    When I see a new shooter with a subcompact pistol, I just assume that they will likely never be able to shoot worth a hoot.

    I don't know if I qualify for a bona-fide 'hoot' or not, but with both my micro-sized pocket pistols, I can perform the 5-5-5-5 drill. That's 5 rounds in a 5 inch circle at 5 yards in 5 seconds. OK, now that I'm older, and on a bad day, maybe 6 or 7 seconds. But most often I can do it in 5. The ergonomics of the Taurus 738 are so good (and so much better than either the Keltec P3AT or the Ruger LCP) it's actually pretty easy to do, and yes, even with the NAA Mini Revolver it's usually not a problem unless my arthritis flares up.

    No, I don't practice much for longer distances - 7 yards is max. Shooting someone further away than that might be problematic to my local D.A. And I don't practice diving on the ground and rolling while shooting at a moving target. Nor do I bother shooting with my weak hand, or trying to change magazines or rack the pistol's slide with one hand. None of that worst-case-scenario stuff. I'm not the guy to call when a flash mob or rioters or terrorists strike. But for straight-up CQB with a mugger or two at my ATM, or a carjacker, or an unsuspecting mass shooter going postal at my favorite restaurant, theater, Lodge or wherever, I might be just what the situation called for. If not, se la vie.

    Do I get a 'hoot?'

    (Didn't think so.)
  • Diver43Diver43 Senior Member Posts: 7,178 Senior Member
    For a long time a Colt Combat Commander was my carry gun. On hot summer days I found it difficult to carry some days. IWB was doable, but not comfortable, so I went and got a Keltec P3AT. Stuck it in my pocket and it worked well when wearing shorts t shirt and flip flops. Some days felt like it wasn't enough and got a 9mm Shield when they came out. Fast forward a few years and a Glock 43 can be found on my hip most days.
    Logistics cannot win a war, but its absence or inadequacy can cause defeat. FM100-5
  • DanChamberlainDanChamberlain Senior Member Posts: 2,880 Senior Member
    .45s. One XD-S for light clothing, the other is the XD Mod 2 Subcompact. Both can be carried under a loose fitting T-Shirt, but the XD-S is less noticeable to me.
    It's a source of great pride for me, that when my name is googled, one finds book titles and not mug shots. Daniel C. Chamberlain
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 17,855 Senior Member
    horselips wrote: »
    Do I get a 'hoot?'

    Regularly, by practically everybody here- - - -but not for any of those reasons. It's called "Comedy Relief"!
    Hide and wail in terror, Eloi- - - -We Morlocks are on the hunt!
    ASK-HOLE Someone who asks for advice and always does something opposite
  • TrueTone911TrueTone911 Senior Member Posts: 5,561 Senior Member
    Not related to concealed carry, but I do remember when my wife and I chose our first pistols just 4 short years ago.

    I selected a full size 9mm, while she selected a sub compact .380. The full size pistols intimidated her a bit. Even though she shot the range rentals and had no trouble with them, the size and weight was something she was not comfortable with. She felt like, I'm a small person so I need a small gun. She eventually realized the little pistol was more of a handful and harder to shoot well than a full size. She sold it and now uses a K frame revolver.

    I subtly tried to steer her away from the sub compact, but didn't want to be one of those guys who tells their wife what gun she needs.

    Of course, now with a few years of trigger time behind me...I wish I had her little was a fun gun to shoot.
    Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock.

    Will Rogers
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 29,541 Senior Member
    In 9mm I think I'd stick with 115 Gold Dots for the higher velocity if you are using a 3" ~ or so bbl compact pistol or the +P 124s or made for short barrelled GDs.

    124s tested with and without denim..........

    115 grain GDs W/WO denim.

    No Magic Bullets and no guarantees they will do anything but put a caliber sized hole in your target.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 29,541 Senior Member
    Ooops wrong thread.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • earlyearly Senior Member Posts: 4,950 Senior Member
    Historically most people diagree with the OP's valid and realistic points. Those people generally just want the piece of mind of a gun handy without much further thought. Their thinking however faulty has created a market for small low quality handguns since the 18th century and likely before. More than likely for most people under most circumstances such arms are sufficient.
    My thoughts are generally clear. My typing, not so much.
  • North ForestNorth Forest Member Posts: 273 Member
    When I went to buy my first handgun I went to a long-time family owned sporting goods store that has a fairly large gun counter. I had the good fortune of having an older guy who was a retired border patrolman help me. I told him I knew nothing about firearms but want to get a handgun for HD. He brought out three, all in 9mm, a Sig, a Glock, and a Springfield. All "full size". The Sig was obviously very nice but way out of my budget range, the Glock had a very good rep from my sales guy, but didn't feel good in my hand and though irrelevant I thought was butt-ugly, but the Springfield had good rep also and fit hand and budget well. The sales guy was very kind and took the time to show me basic field strip breakdown, cleaning and ammo needs. So, a week later, very excited but feeling like I had just joined The Dark Side, I began. After a friend at work had shown me a spot up on the mountain to shoot, I practiced and practiced every week until I felt I could actually hit something with a fair bit of confidence. Not long after I got a Mossberg 500, also "for HD" and quickly discovered the delightful joys of really being able to blast stuff, but also learned its limitations.

    Well it wasn't long before I wanted to start carrying, so the wife and I (she was all gung-ho at the time) went and got our carry licenses, and I started try to carry my XD9, first on the hip (hadn't discovered good holsters yet) and after that hadn't worked out well, then tried to carry with a shoulder rig (nylon, very uncomfortable) which really wasn't working out either, and obviously wasn't going to work for warm weather. So, I started investigation of the idea of a smaller, yet hopefully accurate and reliable gun for carry. I chose the XDs .45 and the wife chose the Ruger LC380. Once again I practiced and practiced, and found the XDs to be everything I wanted, put into a DeSantis holster good for comfortable conceal even in warm weather, fairly accurate out to 40ft., and reliable, plus the power of the venerable .45 cartridge. Good to go. And I'm still using it to this day. The wife's LC380 though, different story. We took it out numerous times trying to "get the feel" of it, both of us. We found the recoil to be snappy and obnoxious, the trigger pull way too long, and the accuracy all over the place even at only 7yds. It was (is, we still have it, sitting in the corner of the safe) however, reliable. It goes bang every time, thats about it. We eventually got the wife a Charter Arms .38 snubby "Undercover" model, put some Hogue grips on it, and she is absolutely deadly with it, far better than me. I still want to upgrade her to a S&W.

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