Ep. 6 Should I Shoot? What Gun Should I Get Part II

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.

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.

What Next?

What concealed carry firearm did you choose? How long did it take you to find the right gun for you?

What concealed carry firearm did you choose? How long did it take you to find the right gun for you?

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.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • billybob December 9, 2016, 11:01 am

    Any gun is better than no gun ! What is the value of your life ? (cheap may not work gun ? ) There is no perfect gun ! If there were then there would only be just one ! (size-weight-cap.-type)
    I carry a revolver & my wife carry\’s one too when we are out (with extra ammo), reason is I carry mine in a jacket and she carry\’s hers in a jacket or pocket book ,that way we never have to show we have a hand on it , letting someone see you have a gun is just asking for more trouble & lies ! (you pointed it at me – you threaten to kill me- Ect…) Showing a gun just escalates the conflict ! Sometimes it\’s the only way, but if you can back away let the police handle it ! AT home or in the car is a totally different !

  • Todd J June 13, 2016, 8:00 am

    Of course, if asked, I own no guns, but if I did, I would carry a ported 40 S&W M&P Shield for my concealed gun. If I can’t carry on my person, I have a little medical labeled bag that I carry a Wilson CQB Elite in 38 Super. Lastly in the glovebox is a Beretta PXStorm in 40 S&W. For home, a Remington 12 Gauge. Yes there are many variations but like others I have been shooting, and collecting for 40 years. I stay alert, I stay out of bad areas. I have never had to pull any of my weapons.

    • Anthony July 15, 2016, 11:00 am

      Carrying a ported Shield would be a bad choice because the first time you pull that trigger, especially at night would blind you instantaneously. I carry a Shield myself in 9/40 cal. non ported. Also, consider having the entire grip section stippled, it’ll improve handling.

  • steve hammill June 11, 2016, 8:55 pm

    I’ve found that I like the .480 for dangerous game, but have moved from a 10mm/45 down to a 41 mag/40/357 for two-legged creatures in the woods. IME, the lesser calibers can take out most of the big, bad critters, but I .
    still like the heavy lead.

  • Roy June 10, 2016, 9:15 am

    “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 ” — Amen! Everyone of us has at least one gun that is not a good fit – if it is for the bragging rights, so be it, otherwise . . . Best advise is to find a gun that is comfortable in your hand, comfortable in your pocket/purse/holster, and which you can hit a target.

  • Sid Young June 10, 2016, 9:10 am

    I’m 60 and have carried for the last 39 years. I’ve drawn 4 times but have never had to pull the trigger. This resulted in three arrest and one run away that was never caught. My personal preference ranges from a North American Arms .22 Mag to a Colt New Agent Compac .45 . There are many others in between ( Sig, S&W, etc.) I change my carry piece based on climate, clothing and area of travel. Multi choice carry creates the problem of having to remain proficient with many different firearms. So I’m constantly putting lead down range. My recomendation is to chose a handgun that fits the hand as well as the method of carry and shoot shoot shoot until your muscles have a mind of their own.
    ( CWP in the following states, South Carolina, Utah, Pennsylvania ,Washington )

  • Tom benton June 10, 2016, 8:48 am

    The debate on which gun to carry will endure the same as what caliber to choose. The answer is to carry the gun that you can conceal and shoot accurately. A video I watched produced by an individual who trains law enforcement officers concluded the most important aspect of a concealed carry weapon was that it fit ones hand naturally and pointed where the users finger pointed without manipulation of the grip. If one has to adjust ones grip in an emergency situation to accurately shoot, they are using the wrong handgun. The Kahr PM9 fit the bill for me. Easy to comceal ,potent with Fedral 124 gr HST loads and importantly it
    points where I point instinctively. I also learned that a consistent carry method was important to rapidly deploying the weapon.
    If my carry method changed from an IWB holster to a paddle under a coat or pocket holster, valuable time was wasted deploying the gun. It was not instinctive, it required a thought process and during an emergency drawing needs to be hard wired.
    I carry 95 % of the time with a pocket holster. I can walk with my hand in my pocket in a casual manner without any indication
    I have a weapon. Works with shorts, jeans or dress pants. I can draw and fire accurately under 2 seconds. I change my method only when seated in my car. The pocket holster will tuck inside my waistband in a crossdraw position unhindered by a seatbelt.
    Additionally my auto has a closing compartment below the seat which easily accomodates the Kahr in an upright position allowing deploying it under 3 seconds. What works for me may not work for you. I am content and confident in my carry method. Find yours.

  • Ron Stidham June 10, 2016, 7:09 am

    Good article, that being said. I think you covered all the bases. Being a gun owner is a big responsibility, no one knows better than yourself what feels comfortable in your hand, or the first timer recoil reaction. I have been around guns, and hunting my whole life. I carry a full size 1911 in 45 acp in cold climate when a good jacket can conceal a fire arm of that size, Warm weather I carry a compact M&P in 40 S&W, a good t shirt can cover this with a inside the waist band holster. Why a different caliber, simply I have both caliber pistols that I use, and am confident with both. I am 58 years of age, but I for one am sure I could still be taught a thing or two. I wonder how many people are honest enough with themselves to agree.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend