If you’ve been following firearm industry news, you know that the “average American gun owner” looks a little different these days. More women are purchasing and carrying firearms than ever before, and chances are good your significant other has thought about buying a handgun for self-defense.
Mine has, anyway. My wife Ana and I have moved around a bit the past few years, but now that we’re in the Great State of Texas on a semi-permanent basis, we decided it’s time for her to get her Concealed Handgun License.
But first, that all-important question: What gun should she get?
- Help Your Wife Purchase a Concealed Carry Firearm, Part 1: The Talk
- Help Your Wife Purchase a Concealed Carry Firearm, Part 2: The Search
- Help Your Wife Purchase a Concealed Carry Firearm, Part 3: The Range
There are, quite literally, dozens of compact and sub-compact pistols to choose from these days. And the options are endless: Semi-auto or revolver? Double-stack or single-stack? Striker-fired or hammer-fired? Safety or no safety? 9mm or .380?
Choosing a concealed carry handgun can be overwhelming, especially if you—like me and thousands of other Americans in 2016—are relatively new to the firearms world but still realize the benefits of owning and carrying a gun.
If that sounds familiar, this series of articles is for you. We’ll cover the basic questions you need to ask your significant other, many of the most popular concealed carry options, and how to find and purchase a firearm.
The strategy Ana and I used might not work for everyone, so if you had a different experience I encourage you to share it in the comments below. But my hope is that between my articles and your comments we can compile a great resource for anyone looking to help their wife or girlfriend purchase their first concealed carry handgun.
And I use the word “help” deliberately. Speaking with others on this subject and researching it myself, I’ve found that men often mistakenly purchase a pistol for their significant other rather than helping them purchase their own. If your wife has expressed interest in firearms, it’s tempting to buy a gun you think she’ll like, wrap it up, and put it under the tree. I understand the temptation, but it’s a bad idea.
Unless your wife is already well-versed in firearm usage, choosing her handgun should be a team effort. Your job isn’t to give her your favorite gun; your job is to help her find hers. She might have to use her handgun to save her life, so it’s crucial that she be absolutely comfortable with it.
With that in mind, Ana and I found it useful to discuss what she wants in a concealed carry firearm even before hopping on GunsAmerica and visiting our local gun stores. This gave both of us a chance to share our thoughts in a low-pressure environment and saved us from awkward, whispered arguments at the gun counter.
I had a list of questions I wanted to cover, but I also gave her the chance to voice concerns I had never considered.
Jordan: So, I obviously want you to have a handgun so you can defend yourself, but why do you want to carry?
Ana: Peace of mind. When I’m running errands or at home by myself I like to know that I have a way to defend myself against a much larger person. I also want to be able to defend our kids.
Jordan: Do you think you’ll carry the gun on your body or in your purse?
Ana: I know carrying on the body is safer, but, honestly, I don’t see myself doing that very often. I’m a slight person, and I don’t wear clothes that are great for concealing a weapon. I’ll give it a shot, but I think realistically I’ll carry in my purse most often.
Jordan: Do you know whether you’ll be more comfortable with a revolver or a semi-auto?
Ana: I’ve shot your semi-auto lots before, so I think I’d be comfortable carrying one. I like how simple revolvers are, but it would also be nice to have more than six rounds.
Jordan: Ok, so we’ll try both and see if you gravitate towards one or the other. What are your biggest safety concerns?
Ana: I’m really worried about the kids getting the gun, whether I’m carrying in a holster or in my purse. I know keeping the gun away from the kids will be entirely my responsibility, but are there any features on a handgun that could help protect against that?
Jordan: You have to strike a balance between making the gun easy to use against an attacker but tough for little fingers to operate. You can carry without a round in the chamber, so anyone who picks up the gun would have to rack the slide first. But that might make it too hard to use if you’re ambushed in an alley or getting into your car.
One option might be to get a gun with an external safety and a heavy trigger. That way, anyone unfamiliar with the gun will have to first figure out how to disengage the safety. Then they’ll have to give the trigger a firm pull, which lessens the chance of accidental discharge.
Ana: That sounds like it might work. What are the disadvantages of an external safety?
Jordan: It takes a lot of practice to get fast with it, so you’ll have to take it out to the range on a regular basis and practice dry firing at home.
Ana: I can do that.
Jordan: Ok, so we’re looking for a revolver or semi-auto with an external safety and a reasonably heavy trigger. Obviously, the gun will have to feel good to hold and to shoot, but we’ll figure that out at the gun store and at the range. It also has to be small enough to fit in the purses you use on a regular basis.
Ana: Great, let’s start looking.
That’s more or less how our conversation went. It doesn’t have to be long, but you need to cover a few basics. After you know roughly what you’re looking for, you can head over to GunsAmerica to browse listings in your area. When you’ve found a few you want to try, just visit those local GunsAmerica dealers and see what happens!
That’s what we did, and we’ll share our experience in Part II: The Search.
About the Author: Jordan Michaels is a new convert to the gun world. A Canadian immigrant to the United States, he recently became an American citizen and is happily enjoying his newly-acquired Second Amendment freedoms. He’s a communications professional, a political junkie, and an avid basketball fan.