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.



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