Editor’s Note: The following is a post from Sammy Reese, a former Marine Corps Artillery Officer and retired police officer from California. He is a part-time range master for the police department he retired from as well as a life-long martial artist and combatives coach.
- Ep. 1 Should I Shoot? When Lethal Force Can Be Used
- Ep. 2 Should I Shoot? Why You Need a Lawyer Now
- Ep. 3 Should I Shoot? ‘What Gun Should I Get?’
- Ep. 4 Should I Shoot? Probable Cause
- Ep. 5 Should I Shoot? What If the Crook has a Gun Pointed at the Clerk?
- Ep. 6 Should I Shoot? What Gun Should I Get Part II
- Ep. 7 Should I Shoot? The Fleeing Suspect And the Good (But Dead) Samaritan
So, you’ve made the very important decision to carry a concealed firearm. Welcome to the team of folks who has identified and accepted that personal safety starts with the person who stares back at them in the mirror.
Having been a first responder, I tell folks I can count on one hand the violent crimes I’ve stopped in progress. I was, for lack of a better word, a historian. I took down information from victims and witnesses from an event that happened in the past. When I responded to calls where good guys used firearms to defend themselves or fought back against thugs and put beatings on the bad guys, I was thankful they had made the decision to not be victims and took some personal initiative to ensure their safety.
It was rare in California to find folks with concealed carry permits, but when I came across them, I always took a few minutes to pick their brains about what type of handguns they carried and how they carried them. I also inquired about what types of training they had and how often they trained. What I found most often were these guys were way more into guns and training than most cops were. They all took the equipment they chose to bet their life on very seriously and they got to the range a lot and to training classes whenever they could afford to do so.
The purchase of a firearm for concealed carry is the subject of debate found in magazines, books, forums, YouTube, barbershops and gun shops all around the country. The “experts” contradict each other and some bash each other online like dogs fight through a fence. Some of the information is awesome and some borders on, “Did that guy just say what I think he did?”
If you’re brand new to firearms, specifically guns for concealed carry, the information overload will confuse you to no end. Not to worry, though; there is hope in this information-saturated quagmire. If you know absolutely nothing on the subject, it’s time to do some investigating. Start your search locally and expand as needed to find reputable firearms instructors — notice I said reputable. Dig deep and find one who really wants to help folks become better. Local law enforcement might be able to help you with a recommendation.
This instructor should be focused on finding the best firearm for you rather than them trying to fit their version of the perfect gun to you. When I take a brand-new shooter to the range for the first time, I always start with a .22 LR rifle, handgun, and revolver to get him or her comfortable. I’ve heard horror stories about brand-new shooters being handed a .44 Magnum and being told, “Let her rip” — epically bad idea.
After the new shooter has grasped the basics of grip, stance, sight alignment (figuring out which eye is dominant) and trigger control while using guns with almost zero recoil, I move on to a 9mm pistol and medium-frame .38 Special revolver. For some, the 9mm/.38 is at the farthest their felt-recoil envelope can be pushed. I have pistols chambered in .380, .40 and .45 on hand in various sizes and shapes and I let the shooter decide what feels best.
You aren’t picking out a new car or a puppy — brand name, color, etc. have zero to do with what handgun you are most comfortable shooting. Trying to fit a shooter to a particular gun or caliber usually ends up with the gun on the consignment rack at a gun shop or locked away in a safe never to see the light of day, and the all-important part about actually carrying a concealed gun never happens.
Finding what firearm works best is only the beginning of the process, but like the foundation of a house, the gun choice has to be solid, and the new owner has to feel comfortable before he or she can continue on in his or her training, which, by the way, is never-ending.
For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.