What is the weapon of choice for concealed carry? That is very much a personal preference. As I explained in episode one of this series, I like my Springfield XD-S a lot, but I carry a Glock 23 when it is time to step it up from Level 1 Carry to Level 2 Carry.
I have always carried autos, but that is as much a training scar as a lifestyle choice. I started this game in the military and not a single revolver existed in our inventory. That makes no sense when you consider that I have actually carried a Sterling subgun into combat, as a primary weapon, yet Uncle Sam didn’t provide us with a single wheel gun.
Check out all the episodes in this series:
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 1 Stop The Nonsense!
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 2 Revolver or Pistol for CCW?
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 3 Fighting with Edged Weapons
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 4 Lights and Lasers!
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 5 Holster Selection & Where to Carry
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 6 Red Dots vs Iron Sights
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 7 Truck Guns
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 8 Training Program
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 9 Ammo Selection
I also violate what I consider good advice for new shooters. I recommend that if you are new to pistols, you purchase your carry gun and training gun from the same family of weapons. For example, if you like a Springfield XD-S, train with a Springfield XD-M. If you like a Glock 19 for training, carry a Glock 43. If you have lots of pistol experience, you are probably fine with a mixed bag of guns.
There is an undeniable advantage, though, to staying within a single family of weapons, particularly as it relates to training. The controls are usually similar, if not the same, the trigger is usually the same, and the ergonomics often feel the same.
I trained a mixed class of M9 and Glock 19 in the Army so often, I actually carried both guns on my hip when I was instructing. And as a private sector instructor, it was rare that anyone in my classes had the same trigger. Now as a gun writer, it is common to shoot three different pistols on the same day. My point here is if you have a gaggle of training time and rounds down range, it mostly doesn’t matter what you carry. If you are new to this though, I don’t recommend the mixed bag approach. Try to stick within the same family, if you can.
One place where police skills and operative skills intersect is undercover operations. Certain law enforcement agents have decades of experience at this in unforgiving environments and that makes them a very valuable resource for advice on carrying weapons. Not only do they do it undercover, they see what all the bad guys do too.
When I asked one of my friends (shout out to Noto) what he thought about revolvers, he told me it was the only choice. More often than not in this country, a scenario you are likely to use lethal force in starts with an assault, at contact range. In his years of conducting undercover and teaching it, one rule was true 100 percent of the time. An auto is always fouled as soon as it comes out, either with hands or trapped in clothing.
Therefore, in real-world situations, an auto has a capacity of one, while a revolver has the capacity of at least five (or eight if it’s the new hotness from Smith & Wesson). Between us girls, this is something I didn’t really know either. It certainly has made me reconsider going to a J-Frame. I say that as someone who has experience dishing out violence. It was my full-time job for a decade and a half.
If you are new to concealed carry this should absolutely be a time to pause and reflect. We all want to Jack Bauer our way out of a 7/11 full of tangos armed with S-Vests and Scorpion subguns, but it’s not the most likely scenario we are going to face. Five rounds of .38 Special or .357 Magnum is probably plenty for most anything you’re going to encounter on the street.
Sure, we do live in a brave new world with terrorists and active shooters. And yes, if one has no choice but to confront those threats, it is best to do so with full-size, large-capacity platforms. But this is about finding the carry gun you’ll actually carry every day under normal conditions. Not about fighting ISIS. That said, if you are concerned that the threat level is rising in your neighborhood and feel the need to ramp up your carry loadout, make sure you check out episode one on the levels of carry.