Thoughts on Buying a First CCW Handgun

If you're looking for a good first concealed carry gun, you can't go wrong with a Glock. If you're not sure about that, just ask me and I'll tell you.
If you're looking for a good first concealed carry gun, you can't go wrong with a Glock. If you're not sure about that, just ask me and I'll tell you.

I’ve noticed a few things among those pondering a concealed carry gun. Maybe it’s just me.

A co-worker sought my advice about choosing a concealed carry gun. It was time to get armed.

There’s a running joke around the office, in which my co-workers engage in silly name calling, leveling monikers like “Glock Snob” at me (a name I’ve worn as a badge of honor, by the way).  If you ask me what gun you should buy, you’ll usually get the same answer: “Glock.”

Well, Glock Snob has noticed a few patterns that tend to surface when it comes to folks contemplating starting to carry a concealed handgun.

Get Ammo You Can Afford

As I wrote recently in this primer on buying your first concealed carry handgun, newbies tend to overlook the price of ammo.

Stop fretting about stopping power and think what it will actually cost you to shoot your handgun. To be sufficiently prepared, you’ll need to practice frequently. Training is key.

I almost always recommend a semi-automatic handgun as the primary CCW gun, and it doesn’t take long to blow through 500 rounds (expert tip: buy a Glock, and you won't get any jams). You can drop a couple hundred bucks in an afternoon at the range very quickly.

Consider that .45ACP ammo can be as much as 150% to (in some cases) almost twice the cost of similar types and quantities of 9mm ammo.

And when you actually study self-defense uses of guns, you see that the mere presence of a gun by an armed citizen is often enough to immediately deter the threat — it changes the cost/benefit analysis for the would-be criminal before terminal ballistics ever become an issue.

Get a Big CCW Handgun

Don’t choose a tiny CCW gun just because you think it’ll be easier to hide under a t-shirt. There are many ways, and many special clothes for CCW that can conceal full size pistols.

Big guns can be shot more accurately and are more forgiving on recoil. The worst — and perhaps most common — mistake made is by well-meaning boyfriends or husbands recommending a small snub nose .38 special revolver to their lady.

These little pipsqueaks are cute, but they bark and buck like mad. Your woman won’t feel comfortable carrying a gun like this, so get her a full-sized handgun — something she can shoot comfortably.

I’ve noticed more commonalities, but the main thing to remember when buying your first concealed carry handgun — the most important thing in the whole world — is that you make sure, darn sure, that you always, always, always be sure that you buy a Glock.

The rest is up to you.

Need more advice on buying your first CCW gun? Read my primer, How to Choose the Best Concealed Carry Gun

My recommended resources for concealed carry:

Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry, 2nd EditionThe Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry, 2nd Edition

The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery

Armed: The Essential Guide to Concealed Carry

Find more resources at



  1. The whole”buy a Glock” is a bit too much. LGS lost a purchase because I didn’t care for that attitude so I went elsewhere and bought my Smith. The “buy a Glock” is starting to sound to me like the “buy a Mac” or the “buy a Toyota” by the Mac user whose Macbook was sent back the 6th time or the Toyota driver who I gave three rides to the shop over the last 6 months in my 10 year old Chevy thats never broke.

    There is so much back and forth between the get a pocket gun and get a full size, I went in the middle with a compact, seems like a good compromise between too small to shoot without breaking my wrist and too big to not be able to wear without printing.

    Likewise special concealed carry clothing, can you really afford extra clothes for those times you CC? To me CC isn’t a decision you choose lightly and spur of the moment. You have taken the next step in ensuring your safety and brought your preparations to the next level to use the PMspeak from the next cube row over. The same as being prepared isn’t going out to Walmart and buying a cartload of gear and dumping it in the closet. Your making a lifestyle change which takes some planning. I started reading multiple sources, forums, books, etc. Then started looking at various guns and reviews. Now most will say to go to the range and rent various but with my wife’s and my schedule alternating to take care of our kids I don’t have that luxury. I accepted the risk of buying without getting to test drive but I felt comfortable doing so because I felt with the high prices currently I could easily resell and I’m usually pretty good and picking out decent products based on my research and taking the “just buy a Glock” recommendations with a grain of salt.
    So back to the topic of clothes, I started planning for CCW and started looking at clothes that I thought would work well. I’d go into the fitting room and wrap my wallet around my smartphone and then IWB it to see how something would fit. I am between a small and medium shirt so I started buying on the medium side more often to make sure I had good coverage. This way my normal clothes fit in with my new lifestyle. I started looking for others carrying, kept staring at my NRA Instructors waist while he was teaching to study movements and see if he ever printed. Lots of research and planning so I don’t get caught trying to conceal in something that doesn’t fit if there isn’t time to launder those fancy clothes.

  2. First things first; pick up a lot of firearms, squeeze them in your hands, one hand, two hands, right hand, left hand. Try to rack the slide, eject the magazine, release the slide, load the magazine, (make sure it’s unloaded) pull the trigger. Line it up, get in stance, how does the gun feel in your hand? Too small, too big, tight, lose? How’s the weight of it feel, it’s not loaded and will be heavier when it is. I like stainless steel guns the best, less felt recoil. There are some great all steel guns out there (not by Glock), easily concealed, reliable and accurate. Kahr K & MK series 9mm & 40SW and they also have some excellent smaller polymer firearms, 380 & 9mm; the 40 is a bit snappy. Also Springfield EMP line 9 & 40 and some nice 45acp Officer, Compact or Pro series 1911’s by a variety of manufacturers at different price points. CZ-USA sells some great, reliable all steel and polymer weapons in different calibers and sizes. I still recommend finding a handful that feel really comfortable to hold and utilize the functions of, then rent them and see how you feel about them. Some little guns are awfully snappy (esp. in polymer) and some small steel weapons feel easier to handle. Affordability is always an important part of the equation as well. After comfort in your hand and shooting, you have to ask yourself, will I actually carry this? So, try wearing it in a holster, there are a variety of ways to pack a gun. If married or you have a partner, is it going to be a shared weapon? Will they like a 9mm, 40, 45 or . . . . How many types of ammo do you want to buy and can you afford to shoot a couple times a month? There are lots of questions to be answered before you dive into gun ownership. If you are not sure after shooting them, think it over, pick out the best and go back another day and shoot them again or try some others you might have been looking at. Spending $350 to $650 seems to be a fairly common number for a new weapon, depending on size, caliber and features. It is not something to jump into without giving it considerable thought and trial. Good luck and happy shooting : )

  3. Pardon me for noticing but, your article seems more like a shameless plug for Blocks(spelling intentional). While they are fine weapons, they are not immune to malfunction.
    I have to agree with some other posts here regarding other manufacturers. I’ve had ZERO issues with my Springfield 1911 style V10 Ultra Compact. I’ve had ZERO issues with my Springfield XD40. I’ve had ZERO issues with my wife’s S&W M&P 9mm (so far). This is not to say that something can’t go wrong but, to say that the Block is the end-all be-all weapon system is fanboyism at best and dangerously misleading at worst.
    A humble suggestion, get a firearm from a reputable maker that feels good in YOUR hand, YOU are confident carrying, and accurate shooting.
    I do agree however, that a somewhat larger framed and reasonably heavier weapon will eat recoil more efficiently than the little micros (which will allow for a quicker follow up). Case in point my Ruger LC9 vs. my XD40. The XD shoots like a dream while the LC9 has greater felt recoil.
    With so many fantastic pistols on the market, it would be a shame to go with the obligatory cookie-cutter Block in favor of something that truly fits the individual.

  4. Glock schmuck junk. I will take my Hi-power any day. The late Jimmy Cirilo carried two chiefs specials while on the NYPD stake-out squad and never felt outgunned by a bad guy. Rule #1 of a gun fight is have one. Some of these arm-chair commandos think they have walked the walk because they have put a few holes in some brown cardboard silhouettes.

  5. Glock schmock junk. I will take my Hi-power any day. The late Jimmy Cirilo wrote that he carried two chiefs specials while he worked the stake out squad. He also wrote that he never once felt out-gunned by a bad guy. Rule #1 of a gun fight is have one. Some of these arm chair commandos should not be allowed to write. They think that because they have spent a little time putting a few holes in some brown cardboard silhouettes they have walked the walk. NUTS!!!

  6. I beg to differ on choice of fire arm. I carry S&W M&P .40’s. After 100’s of rounds through my compact, full size, and Pro, I have not had a single fail to feed, jam, or fail to fire. I, too, used to rely on a Glock 23. However, the Glock 23 does not fully support the case at the 6 o’clock position. So, for us that reload, this can be quite dangerous. Also, the M&P compact holds 2 more rounds than the Glock of comparable size.

  7. I beg to differ on choice of fire arm. I carry S&W M&P .40’s. After 100’s of rounds through my compact, full size , and Pro, I have not had a single fail to feed, jam, or fail to fire. I, too, used to rely on a Glock 23. However, the Glock 23 does not fully support the case at the 6 o’clock position.

  8. Buy the best all metal M1911 that you can afford. Polish it to a mirror finish in key areas and you will never be let down by a plastic receiver that cannot be adjusted.

  9. I recently took my grandson into a small indoor gun range so he could shoot his brand new 1911A1; just like the one grandpa has. Another customer was coming out of the range madder’en a wet hen. His Glock was so jammed up that he and the range operator couldn’t figure out how to clear the jam. He didn’t take to kindly to my suggestion that he should get a Government model 1911. Been shooting one since my infantry days in the late ’60’s. In the 40+ years I’ve been shooting a 1911 I’ve never had a jam with standard issue 230gr FMJ ball ammo that it’s designed to shoot.


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