Selecting Firearms for Concealed Carry

The following is an excerpt from the firearms section of my book “Principles of Violence”. If you have yet to read it, I highly encourage you to do so. While this book primarily deals with facing firearms as an unarmed person, I added a brief bonus section on selecting firearms for concealed carry. Stay tuned for many more posts and book/video products from the Greyskull Academy of Combat Sciences on the subject of modern gunfighting. 

Choosing to carry a firearm is a serious decision. It is one that requires a high level of responsibility on your part. Unlike other tools, the firearm is a mechanism. It is capable of firing a projectile and killing a man from a distance. Unlike impact weapons (which are out for concealed carry anyway), and edged weapons, firearms can also kill someone “accidentally”, as a result of human negligence. Do not carry a firearm if you are drinking alcohol, it’s not good for you if you get caught doing it, and the repercussions for others could be even more severe.

Additionally, I’m writing this with the assumption that you are carrying a firearm in an area where it is legal to do so, and are following all applicable laws about concealed carry. I do not advocate or condone carrying a firearm illegally, and a court sure won’t if you’re found to be doing so.

Revolver or Pistol?

This topic has been debated for ages. What it comes down to is a combination of personal preference, and what type of situation you are likely to encounter where the use of a firearm would be warranted.

Revolvers offer unbeatable dependability. They will fire just about anytime you pull the trigger. Also they have no external safeties to manipulate, a plus for sure in a combat situation. The drawback to the revolver is its capacity. Most revolvers that would be considerations for concealed carry hold five or six rounds. While this is statistically more than enough to address most any lethal force situation that the average citizen is likely to encounter, some may feel a bit more comfortable toting something that packs a bit more ammo.

Enter the semi-auto pistol.

Pistols come in a variety of calibers, sizes, shapes, and levels of quality, more so than the revolver. Since this book is not specifically about firearms (though later releases will be), I am not going to get to in depth with this subject. I will however say that a semi-automatic pistol makes an excellent concealed carry weapon as well, assuming that it is appropriate for the shooter.

This brings me to an important point that I make to all of my students when it comes to firearms:

 Shot placement is King.

 If you do not hit your target, you will not get the intended result. You can see the obvious parallel to fighting with empty hands here. The same focus on targets that I teach when using your body to injure a man is crucial when using a firearm. Knowing this, the best weapon for you is the one that you are capable of firing the most accurately, from any conceivable position.

This means that if you love the idea of toting a big, high-powered semi-auto, but find that you are far more accurate with a five-shot, full steel, revolver with a three-inch barrel; you are far better off choosing the latter. Likewise, if your revolver is a .357 Magnum, but shooting that load makes the gun difficult for you to control for follow up shots, you may be much better suited to stuff the cylinder with a .38 special load that you can handle and shoot more accurately.

Bigger is only better if all other factors are equal. Firearms kill by way of firing a projectile that penetrates, and crushes vital tissue in, the human body, period. This can be accomplished with literally any modern handgun, hell, it worked for years with old black powder muskets, so don’t sweat over having the coolest, or most “high tech” gun on your hip. If you are a gun enthusiast or collector, that’s great. If you like to “talk guns” with your gun club, or buddies from the range or gun shop, that’s also great. What I am suggesting emphatically that you do is leave your ego aside when selecting which gun you want wear on your person as a tool for the protection of yourself and others.

Speaking of ego, that brings us to our next topic,

 What caliber should I choose?

Here we go. This subject is more hotly debated than that whole pro-choice, pro-life crowd. Interestingly enough however, most that debate this topic have never used a firearm for its intended purpose. Those that have, or have been in an environment where that sort of thing was a bit more common, tend to have a different perspective, i.e. they don’t care.

This topic is rife with those who tout that “bigger is better”. Most of these people will be advocates of the .45 ACP cartridge. Most who fit this bill will also loathe smaller calibers, and always seem to have a particular dislike for the battle-tested nine-millimeter parabellum round. Like I said before, choose the weapon that you can best control and fire accurately. That is all that matters.

While I am myself a nine-millimeter fan, I have no allegiance to that particular round. I have my reasons for favoring certain calibers or platforms, all of which have directly to do with how well they serve their intended purpose, but I do not condemn the use or support of any others. Frankly, I am capable of manipulating an extensive array of handguns, both revolvers and semi-autos, and am perfectly at home with any number of guns on my waistband. This is the result of half of a lifetime of gun ownership and use, as well as extensive training (both as student and teacher) on the subject of combat shooting, as well as that whole ground combat experience thing. The last of those pedigree components is what makes me shake my head in awe when someone says how ineffective the .556 NATO round is, or how piss poor the “stopping power” is from a nine millimeter (the two calibers of weapons I used and saw in use the most in Afghanistan).

Over the years, many have been surprised; some even “offended” at some of my choices of carry guns. They’d often make remarks like “I’d expect you to carry XXXX, not something like that”, or my favorite, “How is it with all that you know and have seen that you can step out of the house carrying that?!” If the last question doesn’t answer itself, I’m afraid I can’t help you, the irony is simply too much.

One evening a close friend of mine who is currently serving in the Army’s First Special Forces Operational Detachment: Delta, or “DELTA Force”, the premier anti-terrorist team in the world, and I were out to eat. He was armed with a Ruger LCP .380 pistol loaded with a round that he helped a somewhat well known ammunition manufacturer create. I had a snub nose .32 H&R Magnum lightweight revolver pocketed as well. A patron of the place where we were dining, who was unfortunately introduced to us, had a few too many drinks and proceeded to “talk guns” to us. We certainly had not brought up the subject; it was the fault of a mutual “friend” (if the term is still applicable after this introduction), who mentioned that we were both “army guys”. He prodded to know what we were carrying, and when we told him his reaction was comical. He literally laughed out loud. He then proceeded to tell us, “You boys need to grow you some balls and get you one of these” before pulling his shirt up to show the butt of his custom 1911 .45 ACP pistol, tucked in a belt holster. I couldn’t help but notice how well it accentuated his beer belly.

After the incident, my friend and I laughed on the ride home. We, like most with who have experience in such matters, are humble people. We don’t advertise who or what we are. Our guns are simply a component of our “kit”, like our cell phones, or car keys. They certainly are not a status symbol, or something that we consider part of our identities. We don’t initiate such conversations, and we certainly don’t brandish our guns in public places, while drinking alcohol, for the entire world to see.

The fat man was appalled at our selections, and enjoyed his moment of “superiority” over us for his choice of firearm. My friend and I just had a good time chasing women, and knowing with quiet resolve that either of us were fully capable of shooting our firearms accurately, from any conceivable position, strong hand, weak hand, whatever, and potentially saving the lives of ourselves and others should the need have arisen. (Ok, this probably would have occurred after one of us belted the fat guy in the lateral neck so that he didn’t take anyone’s head off with his “cannon” in the ensuing melee).

For those familiar with American current events, note that Trayvon Martin (the black youth controversially killed in self-defense by George Zimmerman) was killed with single nine-millimeter round fired from a KelTec handgun. Both the caliber, and the brand of gun are not in high favor by the “gun store commando” types, but the incident just goes to show how asinine their arguments truly are.

While I promise to cover this topic in much greater detail in a later firearms product, I will leave you by saying this:

Choose a weapon with a capacity that is likely to see you through a situation that you are likely to encounter, that fires a moderate powered round that you can shoot accurately. Find a secure manner of concealing the weapon that does not advertise to others that you are carrying it. If it makes you feel better, carry more ammunition in the form of a spare magazine (semi-auto), or speed loader or speed strip (revolver). Practice dry fire exercises regularly, and shoot as often as desire, money, and time permit. Familiarize anyone else with whom you have regular contact with (talking family/significant others here, not the guy at the donut shop) with the firearm to reduce the likelihood of negligent, dangerous occurrences. Remember that the gun is a killing tool, and will be recognized in court as such. Never present it unless you are fully willing and ready to fire it into another man and end his life, in a situation that warrants the use of or display of preparedness for the use of, lethal force. 

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2 Responses

  1. Nate

    I like your choices for concealed self defense. What are your thoughts on a short barrel Remmington 410 for the home loaded with home defense shells. I want something my wife is comfortable shooting. How did the seminar go this weekend?

    September 16, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    • The seminar went exceptionally well. I’m getting ready to announce the next one for early December.

      I do not like the .410 round for personal defense. It’s a poor performer in that regard. I would recommend a 9mm carbine for your wife in the home. It’ll shoot like a bb gun recoil wise, which will make it enjoyable to train with, and it will have the inherent accuracy advantage that comes with a rifle.

      If cost was no consideration I would opt for a SBR 9mm with a suppressor for in the home.

      It would be optimal to train her and familiarize her with a pistol as well since they are much easier to wield while navigating the house, and likely get reached for first when things go bump.

      September 16, 2013 at 5:46 pm

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