When it comes to the eternal( infernal?) question of , “what is the best gun for CCW” , there are a few standard responses. There are a couple of typical type of answers. Some will say to carry a certain type of gun, others talk about the round fired and the most common answer is, “whatever gun you are the most comfortable with”. They are all used in the various gun magazines and on gun boards or even the old boys club at the local gun store and we will likely hear the question and answers until the heat death of the universe.
While most of those responses are not even worth talking about, the last one is worthy of addressing. Because, it is the one used the most lately and is just stupid. Sure, it makes sense a little when you first hear it. But it is idiotic to the point of being harmful.
The justification is always some version of ” use what you are comfy with or otherwise it will be left at home”. I have always found this to be so stupid, it makes my head hurt. This is the one thing you can say to give people the justification of not bothering to train or to carry something so ineffective that it is just slightly better then nothing. People will of course tell me the gun you have is better then the one you don’t have. Sure, but the guns that are the kind being talked about in this case, are small and light and of small caliber. A 22 LR will kill a man if used right. But who the hell is going to be able to make that eyeball shot at 20 feet while being robbed/shot/raped/chased/stabbed at? To add to that, small guns that are actually “comfortable” to carry, are not reliable the vast majority of the time.
To over come this bad advice, I think it needs to be looked at as a training issue. Some will make the argument that some would not carry anything if they did not have those tiny or sub compact guns to carry and its best to let them. But I submit that if you are going to seek out training, and practice, you can also train and practice to get use to a larger less comfortable gun. the actual “carrying” and getting use to a change in life style that comes with an effective gun, needs to be a part of your training as well. This of course does not mean training on a range by walking around all day with a bigger gun, but mental training. This goes along with training to shoot a larger gun more effectively and operate it.
Telling some one to just use what they like and are comfortable with is what they need is just a bad idea. Its a lazy trainers way of not dedicating enough time to work with the person who thinks they can not use a large gun or can’t shoot them well. Bullshit I say. There is always a gun that is large enough and reliable enough that can be found to fit almost any hand size. I have seen 12 year old kids shooting 1911s in IDPA, a guy with one arm working a glock, and tiny asian women who shoot better then most of the local shooters I know. How can a trainer just let some dainty lady use a jennings 380 as her only means of saving her self from a serial rapist just because she thinks it easier to carry? laziness? Not really carrying? I never tell some one to carry whatever they are the most comfortable with in that context. And by that I mean the small guns or the useless stuff. Clearly if a woman is comfortable with a FN 45 that is wonderful. but how often is that the case when you hear the above advice given?
To those people, I say. Get use to it. It is your life we are talking about here, not something just to shove in your pocket just to make you feel better. Everyone has heard the old line about you don’t wear a gun because its comfortable, you wear it because its comforting. Absolutely. Chose an effective tool. That doesnt always mean a cannon, but it does need to be something you can use easy and has a proven record. If you cant squeeze into your extra tight designer shirt to show off your muscles. too bad. Those muscles are not going to be of much help in a situation that requires a gun. Change your clothes a little to hide a more effective tool. Its traininga nd discipline. If you have enough discipline to go to the gym every day and work out and run and diet and all that stuff, then you should have no trouble training yourself to deal with carrying a little more weight on your belt and choosing appropriate clothing to hide it. Also this means actually getting a proper holster that you can retain the gun with, draw from easily and better abillity and hiding the gun. Not a cheap nylon el jeffe special from the bargain bin or walmart. Its going to be real nice when the piece goes sliding across the floor of applebeese when you bend over to tie your shoes because you are such a tight ward or dumb ass that you would not buy a proper holster. A good holster is a must have. No way around it.
Now as far as the gun goes, the debate rages on. It can be a tricky question and emotions and loyalty plays a big part when it comes to who is giving you advice. A lot of people will give great reasons to carry this model or that model and caliber and be willing to fight over it. That is why the “carry what is comfy” came to be. It is like talking religion or politics to some, and some trainers don’t want to step on the toes of their industry peers. Sorry to say, I dont have the magic bullet answer, but I will give some thoughts on it I feel are solid thinking,
When picking or deciding what gun to carry, forget all that crap about if its comfortable and easy to shoot. I can shoot a 25 ACP great, its light and easy to carry as well!! Is it what I should carry? No. Unless I think all I will ever need it for is scaring birds reliably. As I said above, you can get use to the comfort or slight lack of, and you can, and should, learn to shoot any round to the needed standard. So that leaves the rest.
the qualities to looks for are deadly simple. It has simple controls that you can use, better if its ambi, sights you can see, a trigger that is easy to work with and consistent with enough capacity to work with and a round big enough to work. Modern bullet technology is no excuse to cop out and try to use a tiny round. Pistol rounds are not rifle rounds and you can not count on any hollow point from a pistol to always work, I always assume the worst and pick a round that would still be effective if rendered as effective as a non expanding ball round.
A lot will say the glock meets this list, and it does, and you can get them pretty small and they still work. the S&W MP line is also a good choice. They are simple and accurate and light. I am a 1911 guy, so of course I feel it is a great choice. But not always the best choice for everyone. But to me, it is. Some do not like the manual safety and feel it slows the user down. I could not disagree more, and I like the extra safety. The striker fired pistols and the 1911s are great choices. I do not think the revolver is a good idea. Some want to foist it on to women because they feel it is so simple to use and safe. that is just crazy. The revolver DA trigger is like bending a nail, has a very low capacity, is a death trap if you have to reload with any real speed and if it is in a caliber big enough to be very effective , its going to be a huge gun. And if it is thrown in a purse or front pocket with no holster, it is just as dangerous as a semi auto. And usually the choice of the revolver is put off on women because who ever gave this advice figures the person using it will not or does not want to buy a holster.
As bad as I think revolvers are, in my opinion, nothing is worse then the double action/single action semi autos. They offer up way more controls then really needed. Especially for some one who has limited training time operating the gun, when they could have bought a glock. Getting that first double action round off accurate, is very very hard indeed for a large amount of people. I would argue that is the round that could mean the most.. Usually it means two different grips as well. When training with them, the person has to start form hammer down and decocked or hammer down and safety on, or whatever cockamamie system most european semi autos have, ( worse if the mag release is on the bottom of the grip) then draw and taking off the safety( that is usually moved in a counter intuitive way for us in the USA) if its on, then starting pulling a very heavy trigger. When the shot breaks, most people have to re adjust for a new grip to be able to work the now single action trigger. Not all people will have this to deal with, but most will. It can be mastered, but it takes a lot of time and ammo. Why bother when the glock or MP and other striker fired pistols have one type off pull. Same with the 1911. Flick off the safety in a natural motion, then depress the trigger about a 1/16 of an inch to fire then gun. The truth is, the DA/SA autos are not a good idea. The DAO semi autos theoretically are better, since the trigger is the same every time, but its still a long heavy pull when the last thing you need to be doing in a defensive encounter, is fighting a trigger that feels like trying to bend a nail.
I am not going into caliber very much but I will say, I would not use anything less powerful then a 9x19mm. I prefer the .45ACp. Guys who “no better” tell me the 9mm is better because its faster. but a pistol is not a rifle. The 9mm is not a 5,56 and it does not work the same way. Hollow points do fail all the time, and all things being equal. the 45 is still going to make a 45 caliber hole even as a ball round. It is heavier and it is bigger. I will give up a few rounds in my mag before reloads in a 1911 for this performance or just carry a glock in 45 and have the extra. Either way, it is a 45 caliber bullet . You can still get great terminal effect from smaller rounds, the 10mm and .38 super for example. The 9mm is most likely the best “everymans” choice. You get a lot of ammo in a round that is effective and you can put a lot of rounds on a target in a short time while being able to control the guns light recoil for fast follow up shots. Like all things though, training makes you better, and the better you are, the better you can control larger rounds and guns. If you have the time to train and master the 9mm like a pro, then use it. If you can not dedicate enough time to master the 45 or larger and get the same performance as you got from the 9mm, then do not use it. Stick to the 9mm. I have been using the 1911 for 28 years now. I can use it fast and effectively at speed. it is what I prefer and not just because it is light and comfortable, because it is not. Use common sense and select an effective gun of the right size and power with easy to use ergonomic controls. Not just something small and light. The idea people should just carry whatever they shoot on paper best is something the industry needs to move on from. It is bad advice and it could end in horrible results.