This is a great place to start, as establishing a budget will narrow the search parameters. That said, it is never a bad decision to buy quality. Remember to save some money for ammunition and necessary accessories like a holster, cleaning supplies and safety equipment such as eye and hearing protection.
The selection of a pistol for concealed carry has different criteria than one that will live in the house or never leave the car. Size, weight and style come into play. A pistol that is too heavy or otherwise uncomfortable to carry gets left home. A pistol that is too light or has a very short barrel can be more difficult to master. Careful evaluation of intended use goes a long way toward ensuring satisfaction.
One size definitely does not fit all. Someone with small hands has fewer options, and this is one of the most overlooked considerations. If the pistol does not fit comfortably, it is difficult to maintain a proper grip. Recoil becomes harder to manage and accuracy will likely suffer. In turn, this discourages practice and saps confidence. Thankfully, something from the broad selection of aftermarket grips can often correct this problem. Some types of pistols can also be customized with short triggers.
A person who has some experience with different types of pistols and a variety of calibers has a big head start. Likes and dislikes may already have formed, and when explored can lead the search in the right direction.
Practice makes perfect, so it is important that the pistol selected be comfortable and, better yet, fun to shoot. One of the best ways to find out is by visiting a range that will rent and provide basic instruction on several types and calibers of pistols. A friend with an assortment of pistols works as well. Start with smaller calibers and work up to bigger stuff. Keep in mind that there can be a significant variance in recoil between different types of ammunition in the same caliber, as well as when the same ammunition is fired in different pistols.
For the most part, it’s a decision between a revolver and a semi-automatic. Beyond that, each category has a staggering variety of brands and models with different and sometimes unique features. Those who prefer revolvers often speak of their simplicity of operation, while those favoring semi-automatic platforms like their thin profile for concealment and prefer the convenience and speed of loading and unloading with a magazine. It is critical to ensure that someone considering a semi-automatic has enough strength to properly cycle the slide and to maintain the solid grip required for the pistol to properly function. The correct choice between a revolver and a semi-automatic is likely the one that feels more natural in hand, is easier to operate and performs better at the range.
To some degree, the answers to the above questions have helped narrow the options. Possibly the best recommendation is to choose the most powerful caliber that is both accurate and comfortable to shoot. This encourages practice, which in turn increases accuracy and confidence.
Night sights provide a defined aiming point in low-light conditions, a tremendous advantage. Many pistols offer night sights as a standard feature. If not, aftermarket sets are available for most popular models. Laser sights project a colored dot that is visible at practical distances under most lighting conditions. They are also a tremendous training tool and can assist with developing a proper grip and improving trigger control.
Some types and models of pistols offer the advantage of shooting more than one caliber. Examples include shooting .38 Special ammunition in a revolver chambered for the more powerful .357 Mag, or installing a .22 LR conversion kit on a semi-automatic 1911 pistol chambered for the proven .45 ACP load. In both cases, the lighter recoil and lower cost of ammunition in the secondary caliber encourages practice.
No matter which pistol is selected, proper training from a qualified instructor is recommended. Classes are generally quite affordable and will make almost anyone a better shooter. Equally important, instructors emphasize safe handling, operation and storage.
It is a tradition at my home to host what has come to be known as “The Soup Party” every New Year’s Eve afternoon. My wife Kellie cooks like a woman possessed for two days before a whole bunch of people stop by, eat until they flounder and then go on to do whatever it is they are going to do that night. As soon as a crowd gathers, I retreat to my office with those who hunt in tow so we can share experiences from the recently concluded seasons. We also talk guns.
This year was different. The first couple came early, and did so for an interesting reason. She had decided to get her concealed carry permit and they wanted to know what I thought was the best pistol for her to purchase. I knew they owned a number of guns and enjoyed shooting, so that gave me a good place to start. After kicking things around for a few minutes, she made a surprising statement: “If you can just tell me what I need, I’ll go buy it. I trust you.”
Well, I don’t trust myself to make that kind of decision for anyone. Instead, I showed her some of my pistols and paid close attention to how she responded. The arrival of other guests cut us short, but I offered to take her shooting as soon as the Montana winter let up. After trying several options, we’d narrow it all down and she could decide for herself. The most amazing thing about our conversation is that three other people came to me with essentially the same question that afternoon. Maybe it’s a sign of the times.
Choosing a pistol for personal or home protection is an interesting and possibly challenging process, especially for a first-timer. There are many options and more than enough people who will volunteer good and bad advice. Those who process the information and make the decision for themselves are generally the most satisfied with their purchase. Those who rely on others to decide for them can easily end up with a pistol that doesn’t meet their needs and provides little more than a false sense of security. Here are 10 of the most important questions that, when answered, will help almost anyone select the right concealed carry pistol.
The Ultimate Adjustable Trigger (UAT) is a fully adjustable drop-in system for Glocks.
by Andrew Berry / Dec 2, 2014