Choosing a Primary and Concealed Carry Handgun
There are many handgun models on the market today in a wide variety of Sizes, Calibers, Action-Types, Finishes, and other mechanical features.
Some have safeties, MOST DO NOT!
Modern day handguns do have built-in safety features like a grip or tang safety, loaded chamber indicators, double-stage trigger’s and magazine disconnects. Ultimately, it’s the space between your ears that keeps you safe!
Self-Defense handguns can be grouped into three general categories –
- Primary Guns
- Compact (Concealed) Carry Guns
- Backup Guns
A Primary Handgun is your general full size handgun. It’s has the full size frame, is of a comfortable caliber that allows accurate hits, and has a large ammunition capacity. With a primary gun, I can wrap all my fingers around the grip and get an excellent hold. I can also swap out magazines quickly and efficiently without worry of pinching my fingers and I can hang full size lights and lasers off the gun.
A Compact (Concealed) Carry Handgun is the ‘smaller brother’ of the full size handgun. It has a shorter grip which lends to better concealment, but with less ammunition capacity. Whereas the full size gun (9mm) might have 17 or 19 rounds in the gun, the compact version would have 12 rounds or less.
Sub-Compact handguns are even smaller than compact carry handguns and of course they have even shorter grips. Whereas the concealed carry gun would hold 12 rounds, the sub-compact version might only hold 7 or 8 rounds. Sub-compact handguns can be good as backup guns that may ride in a pocket or ankle carry.
Buying your first handgun
If you are buying a first handgun, a good place to start is with a primary full-size handgun. 9mm and above is the recommended self-defense caliber, but if you are new to handgun shooting and need to learn the basics, a .22 semi-automatic will help you learn the fundamentals easily. If you can, purchase both your defensive handgun and a .22 full-size semi-automatic handgun at the same time.
For a defensive caliber, 9mm is a good place to start, but .38’s are just fine. With the advent of modern day ammunition, even the lower defensive calibers have more punch compared to yesteryear, they are more reliable and cycle better. Caliber is a big choice when it comes to handguns. You want the caliber that ‘you can shoot well, and hit what your aiming at.’
Top of the Line – ‘Brand name’ Manufacturers
H & K
Smith & Wesson
By far, the #1 gun I see in class, and the one that performs the best, is a Glock. After that, it’s Springfield Armory then Smith & Wesson. Also, Mossberg has a new concealed carry handgun that is getting great reviews.
Smith & Wesson, Ruger and Taurus make the best revolvers on the planet. As a backup gun, revolvers are an excellent choice. They are very reliable, can be fired while pushed up against the body of an assailant and can also be fired from inside a coat pocket, etc. Revolver’s are known for their reliability and simplicity to operate. For more information, see my revolvers document.
Be Safe CCW