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Like many things in life, selecting a handgun for concealed carry is a compromise. Any number of factors weigh into the decision—including the user’s build, hand size, gender, aptitude, caliber, climate, clothing, and of course, size of the weapon. In reality, this isn’t that difficult a process, provided one does their homework and makes an honest assessment of his or her level of commitment. Silver screen hero, Dirty Harry, carried a large-frame .44 Mag revolver, which would be a less than optimum choice for most of us mere mortals.

Back when I wore a uniform, my preferred concealed carry piece was the exact same Glock pistol I carried on duty. Much of the time, I was able to get by with loose, casual clothing that effectively camouflaged my full-sized service piece. Many responsible citizens, however, may not have those same latitudes relative to attire and will require a handgun that
is a bit easier to hide. On the extreme other end of the scale, there are all sorts of small “pocket poppers” chambered for .22 LR, .25 ACP, and .32 ACP. I wouldn’t dismiss this breed of handgun as totally useless, but small pocket pistols are best reserved for a more specialized niche rather than general concealed carry. That quality we refer to as stopping power is elusive with small-caliber weapons, and much better results are achieved with a size and power upgrade.

For personal defense, I have long advocated handguns that fire a legitimate service cartridge such as the .38 Special, 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. In many guns designed for the concealed carry market, these proven cartridges are very manageable. Resist the temptation to go too small, as it may not get the job done…

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