4 Qualities Your Concealed Carry Gun Must Have

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Whether selecting a handgun, a holster or other item of equipment the first thing we must ask ourselves is, “What is it for?” In our context, we need a handgun we can discreetly conceal on our person as we go about our daily routine so we can respond to a sudden, unforeseen crisis in which our life is in immediate danger. That is a pretty specific context.

Don’t ask what is the best concealed carry gun, ask if a particular make, model and chambering have these aspects.

What Are The Requirements Of A Life-Saving Concealed Carry Gun:

  • Reliable—It must work every time.
  • Effective—It must be capable of rapidly and reliably putting down a grown man.
  • Wearable—It must be portable enough to carry at all times.
  • Ergonomic—It must be easily operated.

The sidearm is a piece of emergency-safety equipment carried on the person in anticipation of need and intended to immediately terminate a sudden, lethal attack. For various reasons, a lot of people who wear a sidearm seem to forget completely the reason it’s there and focus their attention on features such as handiness, how concealable it is, its weight or even cosmetic appearance. Given the very serious purpose of the sidearm, that is sheer folly.

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This article is an excerpt from Concealed Carry Class: The ABCs of Self-Defense Tools and Tactics, now available at the GunDigestStore.com.

If you are truly convinced you don’t really need a sidearm for your personal safety, why bother to wear one at all? On the other hand, if you recognize such a need, doesn’t the fact that you need a firearm for protection of your life indicate that you should have a piece well-suited to the task? You might remind yourself the only reason we would draw our pistol is because we believe our own life or that of a loved one is in grave, immediate, mortal danger.

A word we need to keep in mind in any facet of this discipline is “context.” When we select any tool, the first question we have to ask is, “What are we trying to do?” If you have a screw sticking out of a threaded aperture, you need a screwdriver. If you have a piece of conduit you need to cut in half, you need a hacksaw. When you need one, the other will likely do you no good. The same is true of equipment in our context.


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The true requirements of a personal-fighting pistol run somewhat contrary to fad, fashion and the imagination of certain gun-magazine writers. A good, solid defensive pistol is apt to be less flashy, innovative or sexy than the current fad; but that should not influence your selection. Instead, as with any type of emergency-safety equipment, your selection should be based on the equipment’s intended purpose and the circumstances under which you might need it.

What then are the requirements for a serious personal sidearm? A sidearm must be reliable, effective, portable and ergonomic. Everything else is gravy.

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Reliability is the single most important element in the selection of a personal defense weapon. The only justification for firing a weapon at a human being is to stop that person from killing or seriously injuring you or a third party. If you need a pistol for real, you need it very badly indeed. Your pistol must work each and every time you reach for it. If it doesn’t, get it fixed or replace it.

For the next requirement, the pistol has to be effective. To be of use to you in a real-life fight, the pistol must be capable of rapidly and reliably putting down a grown man with as few hits as possible in as short a time as possible. Many handgun/cartridge combinations are simply not capable of this and should be avoided.

The third requirement for the sidearm is it must be wearable, or portable. If you do not have it with you, it will do you no good. This will not be the same handgun for a 5-foot-tall, 105-pound female and a 6-foot-5-inch, 275-pound man. In addition to overall body size and physique, hand size has a great deal to do with handgun selection. There is no one-size-fits-all sidearm and there’s nothing gender-specific about handguns. We need the most powerful and easy to shoot pistol we can adequately conceal on our person, not some tiny little gun that makes us feel better, but will not allow us to fight effectively.

The last requirement is the handgun must be ergonomic, or user-friendly. Controls such as a manual safety, slide latch, magazine release, etc., must be located so they can be worked easily, quickly and with as little shifting of the grip as possible. Many, many handguns are very poorly designed in this regard. That is because the majority of them were not designed as defensive weapons. They were designed as hunting pistols, target pistols or plinking pistols. None of those pursuits share our extreme need to be able to get the gun into action quickly and reliably.

Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from Concealed Carry Class: The ABCs of Self-Defense Tools and Tactics, now available at the GunDigestStore.com.


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