You may have heard that “carrying a personal protection firearm is meant to be comforting, not comfortable.”
....Well I don’t know about you, but that’s just not going to work for me.
In this series, Principles of Concealed Carry, you’ll learn how to conceal carry so you stay safe and comfortable. We’ll discuss how to choose your carry gun, concealment clothing, holster fundamentals, and types of holsters. In this first post, let’s take a look at the characteristics you should consider when choosing a carry gun...
Choosing Your Carry Gun
If you’re going to the gun shop to get the largest and most powerful gun you can find... stop right now. Before you purchase your carry gun, you need to think about your lifestyle.
If you wear a business suit all day, you can carry a large framed heavy pistol, as long as you have the appropriate holster and belt to complement it. However, this attire is not always appropriate or desired. If you live in a “beach” community or go on vacation where you will be wearing shorts and a t-shirt or other casual attire, you may wish to carry a different gun and utilize a different carry mode. It is important that you are able to blend in with the crowd and do not appear “odd” for the occasion.
So, what characteristics of a firearm should you consider?
Is the gun concealable?
First thing's first. Your gun must be easy to conceal. But just as important, it should also be easy to draw from under clothing. The smallest gun you can shoot well, in the caliber you have selected, would be ideal for maximum concealment.
Some considerations when choosing your pistol should outweigh others, such as gun width. The narrower the gun, the less it will protrude. Semi-automatic pistols are generally more “concealable” than revolvers. If you choose a revolver, consider a five-shot revolver, over a larger capacity, as the cylinder diameter will be slimmer. The cylinder of a revolver is most likely the widest part of the gun. However, smaller, light framed hammerless five shot revolvers make fine pocket pistols.
The dimension of the grip or gun butt is also an important consideration and could determine the manner in which you choose to carry. The gun is usually positioned by the holster in a manner that will place the grip so that it will stick out slightly from the body for access. This can produce a bulge in your clothing. A long bulky grip will produce a larger bulge and will require a lot of thought in your chosen carry mode and attire. Smaller gun butts/grips would be best. In addition, the grip should be made of relatively hard, smooth materials, such as wood or hard plastic. Although soft rubber grips may help absorb felt recoil, they will cause your clothing to stick, bunch or ride up the grip. This will also happen with very heavy checkering or “skateboard” taped grips. If you have wood grips with heavy checkering, you can “dull” the sharp edges with fine sandpaper.
Gun length is not as important as the width or gun-butt size, yet it is still an important aspect to consider. A pistol with a six or eight inch barrel will not only be heavier to carry, it will be tougher to conceal, unless you wear a heavy coat and carry it in a muzzle down shoulder holster, which we will introduce later in this guide. In most cases, you can own the same gun, in the same caliber with a much shorter barrel. This will provide the security of your chosen caliber, yet give you more options when considering your concealed carry mode. Let’s face it, even if you start out with that six-inch, large framed revolver in a shoulder holster, you will most likely determine later that a smaller, lighter gun would be preferred.
Is the gun “snag free”?
Your concealed carry firearm should be as “snag-free” as possible. With some guns, dehorning may be desirable (Dehorning is the process of making the gun as smooth as possible, without sharp edges that can abrade clothing or snag clothing during the draw). Certain guns can be dehorned even further, by removing the spur from the external hammer. This is usually performed by a gunsmith. Some short-barreled revolvers incorporate a hammer shroud, which not only provides a snag-free draw, but also allows the gun to be fired repeatedly from a pocket, if necessary, without the danger of the fabric being caught between the gun’s hammer and frame.
You must keep in mind that there is no specific “perfect” carry mode for all occasions. You may choose to purchase another firearm specific to your needs on any given day. Many people who have introduced a firearm into their daily personal protection strategies own several guns, it will be up to you and your level of training and comfort to decide which works best for you.