Find the Right Carry Gun, Not Necessarily Smallest Gun

posted on June 23, 2020

Photo courtesy of the NSSF

At the beginning of the COVID-19 buying frenzy, a friend called and told me she was ready to buy her first gun for concealed carry and home defense. She was hoping I could recommend a good gun store in the area. A month or two earlier, I had convinced her to acquire her concealed-carry license and she had already taken additional one-on-one handgun training with a local instructor. She was doing everything right as a responsible, budding gun owner.

I asked her what kind of gun she was thinking of buying. To say I was shocked when she said she wanted a Glock .45 is to understate my reaction. The ever-evolving world of small guns chambered in .380 and 9 mm left me expecting a much different answer. Once I gathered myself, I asked why this was her final choice. She said, “Of all of the guns I have shot over the last couple of months, it is what I shot best.” Well, it was hard to argue with that. Her confidence was palpable.

She said a bigger, heavier gun would not deter her from carrying concealed because she carries a larger purse and is accustomed to lugging a heavy work bag daily. She didn’t particularly notice the differences felt in recoil between the various calibers she has shot. It was apparent that she had put plenty of thought into the matter and had good answers to my questions. Soon after, she was able to go buy her first gun and with it, she noted that she was thoroughly satisfied and felt protected during theses uncertain times.

This scenario made me think about the stereotypical situation where a man helps a woman buy a pistol. To guard against this being perceived as sexist, let me say that I have had my behind whooped by female shooters more times than I can count—each time it happens it puts a smile on my face. I absolutely love seeing women who can shoot! The fact that women are the fastest growing segment of the gun-owning community makes us all safer. The criminals are more uncertain about their next intended victim than ever before. 

Okay, getting back to the stereotypical situation, the man takes his significant other to the gun store and they look at the smallest guns in the inventory. He looks for something more aesthetically pleasing instead of functionality. He is sure small means easy and easy to carry, but the fact is, small often means painful to shoot and difficult to shoot well. So, finding a gun she shoots well and will want to routinely shoot on the range for fun and skill-building should be the priority.

During my last trip to the range, I shot an exceptionally small .380 with hot factory-loaded defensive rounds. I had forgotten just how punishing and unpleasant these guns can be, even for someone who generally thinks of himself as being impervious to recoil. It struck me how terrible pistols like this must be for most smaller, less-experienced shooters. It is the kind of thing that would likely make them want to avoid a pistol and the range altogether.

If a pistol is intended for home defense, the choice should be midsize or larger as long as the shooter’s hands can reasonably accommodate its larger grip. Bigger guns, as a general rule, are simply easier to shoot and manipulate, especially under stress. Tiny, micro-compact guns should be considered only in those circumstances when the owner is only interested in dedicated concealed carry. As the old saying goes: “Some gun is always better than no gun.”

While the micro guns certainly have their place in the world, let us hope for an end to the days when gun dealers see the man come in with the woman, only to look at the smallest, “cutest” guns. Rather, folks should concentrate on the guns with which she will use to build skills. She should get the pistol that will give her the best chance to prevail if ever attacked—most times this is a reasonably sized handgun that is somewhat concealable, yet still easy to grip and heavy enough to mitigate recoil so it’s fun to shoot. It should be the gun she will want to use one day to outshoot of all the men on the range.




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