Novelist Needs Advice on Gun Details, Care to Help?

By David Higginbotham

As we mentioned in our earlier piece, College Bans Book Because of Gun on Cover, author J.M. Maloney, an avid golfer and mortgage financier, has been caught up in a strange mix of First and Second Amendment politics. Maloney and his Brad Stephens series of murder mysteries were barred from a recent charity golf tournament at Santa Barbara City College because of a pistol on the cover of Maloney’s novel Breakfast Ball. Rather than cave under the pressure of censorship, Maloney wants to get the gun details right, and he’s looking to GunsAmerica readers for suggestions.

Maloney's novel Breakfast Ball was banned for the gun on its cover.

Maloney’s novel Breakfast Ball was banned for the gun on its cover.

The irony of Maloney’s plight is that guns play a relatively small part in the mystery that unfolds in Breakfast Ball.  The novel’s climactic action unfolds in a relatively brief hail of bullets. Without giving anything away, I’ll simply say that some aspiring terrorists find it hard to hit their targets while bobbing up and down on jet skis. As this is fiction, the undercover agents have no difficulty dispatching the terrorists with what we are led to believe are handguns they had effectively concealed beneath golfing garb. The good guys make multiple center-mass hits from long distances and do with their handguns what the terrorists can’t manage with their rifles.

It isn’t completely plausible, but few readers will notice, as the action at the end of the book is intense and filled with layered intrigue. Yet what differentiates a novice from an experienced author is the ability to convincingly shape the world of the book. If the gunfights in the book are going to be implausible, they still have to be believably implausible. We read books like this to escape reality, but we still want some realism.

So Maloney’s looking to us for some advice. When he and I talked about the censorship he faced at SBCC, we also talked shop. Here’s his latest dilemma. He’s building a scene and needs some details, and he is looking for us for advice.

So here’s the situation…

Is the PPK the right choice for a modern crime fighter?

Is the PPK the right choice for a modern crime fighter?

Maloney writes: In the second book, Death at the High End, I begin moving Brad Stephens, the main protagonist, towards self-defense. One of the things he does is to buy a handgun for household protection. In doing so, his buddy, Sergeant Raoul Espinoza, starts taking him to a local shooting range.
I tie a golfers’ joke into the scene when they’re practicing:
“Why am I missing high and right?” Brad asks.  
“It’s due to your LOFT,” Espinoza says.  
“You mean loft like on a golf club?  I wasn’t aware guns had loft.”  
“No—LOFT, as in Lack of Fucking Talent.”

The handgun? It’s a Walther PPK. Yet for Maloney’s character, the PPK is more of a cinematic homage,  and the choice hasn’t been all that well thought out. In the third book, Subprime Indiscretions, Brad Stephens is getting serious about handguns, and Maloney needs to know the specifics. What gun? What caliber? What kind of holster, and where would it be worn? How does Brad Stephens carry the gun? What does he do to train? Does he carry with the safety on or off?

So what’s right about the PPK choice? Is the over-sized .380 still a relevant tool for self defense? And what would our protagonist choose if he wanted something smaller, and with more punch. This is your chance to influence the course of the novel. Let us know in the comment section below.

{ 53 comments… add one }
  • Neil Sea July 14, 2017, 10:36 am

    The only clear choices of more power & smaller than the Walther PPK would be the excellent Kahr CM/PM 9/40/45 1st choice (I trust MY life, & lives of my loved 1s to them!), then the Boberg 9mm as 2nd choice, and finally the Heiser 45 semi auto takes solid 3rd place, and threatening to knock the Boberg off it’s throne as we get more exposure to this new gun.

  • SSGRick June 13, 2016, 5:15 pm

    Huh, not one mention of the CZ75 Compact with 14 rd magazine or the CZ75 PCR which is the exact same gun but with an alloy frame which makes it 1/4 pound lighter than the compact model. Multiple magazine capacities available and they come chambered in 9mm or .40 which ever you prefer. A holster is a preference thing and your “new gunner” will have to experiment as to what suits him best. Both guns are a little hard to conceal but with my 5’10” 185lbs frame I don’t have much problem doing so. If I carry shirttail out though, I do have to be careful about the fit of the shirt around my waist area.
    All in all go to a range rent some guns and find out what YOU think your guy would like.

  • James June 1, 2014, 10:26 am

    Easy pick. I’d go old school.
    H&K P7 9mm. Same outer dimensions as a J frame 2 inch .38 but thinner. Hold 9 rounds of any 9mm and shoots anything every time. Squeeze-cocker means no manual safety, instantly safe when grip is released. Reverse gas system and steel construction means very manageable recoil without being too heavy. Light single action trigger pull for every shot. Beefy high viz fixed sights that don’t snag. If you want something interesting for textual purposes I’d load it with the old Geco BAT (blitz action trauma) also known as the more Pc ASA (action safety ammo). Pure gilding metal tubular light weight ultra high speed round with a composite cap that fall away after the bullet leaves the barrel. Will penetrate body armour, tires, etc. tey remain inside the target delivering all the available energy. Otherwise the good old Corbon 115 gr. +P is a good choice. Carry in a Milt Sparks Summer Special IWB holster supported by a Desantis 1.5″ dress carry belt. Hope this helps!


  • Jerry Rivas May 28, 2014, 10:27 pm

    Carry a 1911 in a shoulder holster, and the PPK in an ankle holster. Also a A bersa “thunder .380, deluxe” is a much better choice than the PPK, because it holds 16 rounds.

  • J.A. Maloney May 28, 2014, 9:31 pm

    Let’s do it. I’d love to be more educated.


  • SoCal_Jason May 28, 2014, 6:19 pm

    I live in Santa Barbara, am an educator, and a member at the (beautiful) local range. I’ve read about Mr. Maloney’s plight in one of the local newspapers (the MJ) and would be delighted to spend an afternoon at the range handling a few pistols and talking about them with him. If Mr. Maloney is interested, I can contact him through his website, or GA could probably supply my email. Either way, best of luck Mr. Maloney!

  • Ken May 28, 2014, 1:29 pm

    Well, in defense of wheel guns, the experience of the user is what really counts. I carry a S&W 625 in .45 LC and a derringer in .45 LC. it take s one round to put just about anything down. The derringer carries Glasers and the 6″ S&W carries silver tip hollow points. There are 3 speed loaders and wallet with 12 more rounds. Since I am comfortable with this and regularly practice with it the speed loaders are natural to use. Then again, I do practice with my Taurus 24/7, in .45 ACP for carry when my wife and I go out together since she carries the same type of pistol and between us we have 9 magazines. This gives us commonality of ammunition so we can help each other if we run out of ammo before we get back to the transportation we are in and get our long guns. I hope we never have to do that, but it has come close several times. A person who carries is going to carry the largest caliber that they can handle and train with it constantly. Dry fire or snap caps will give you the opportunity to practice the draw and shoot from concealment and sharpens your muscle memory, 10 to 15 minutes every day if you can or at least 3 times a week. While doing the drills to sharpen the drawing skills it is also good to throw in magazine changes or speed loader drills, in NRA PPOH (Personal Protection Outside the Home) this is what I teach, practice, practice, practice. Adding a laser target system is also a good way to improve the accuracy of your ‘draw and shoot’. There are many drills to use to sharpen your skills out there, but nothing will ever take the place of actually shooting the firearm under all sorts of different conditions.

  • J M Briggs May 28, 2014, 9:14 am

    If concealablity is all you need to worry about then the PPK is a fine choice. As an author you can tweak your words a bit to make a .380 work a bit better than it really would. Each person is also different when bullets hit them. Some lay down and die from a graze, some take 30 solid COM hits and keep coming, and others fall somewhere in between. If long range shooting or multiple one shot kills is going to be the order of the day then a better cartridge should be used even in works of fiction. If stopping power is what you want a Glock 29,30,or 36 , or a Springfield XD in 45 acp is the way to go. All are easy to use, reasonably powerful, and for all but the 36 fairly high capacity. I carry a G29 10 mm concealed all day every day wearing cargo shorts or blue jeans and a polo shirt. It is very accurate, I’ve let people that were not really shooters try it and most can keep 5 shots in 12″ at 50 yards. Recoil is mild enough my 10 year old son and 16 year old daughter shoot it with problem. It rides right behind my hip in a Tommy Theis hybrid holster and few know its there. They just know me well enough to know I’m packing.

  • BOB May 27, 2014, 11:36 pm

    To begin with, you don’t want a pistol with a manual exterior safety nor a exposed hammer. You want a “double action only” pistol. Take your pick from a dozen manufactures.
    Caliber choice, 9mm or .40s&w. Both are available in many double action pistols, ammo selection & availability are good, and when it comes to recoil either are manageable.
    Next, his character should be enrolling into a NRA safety class, then some one-on-one time from a NRA certified instructor, and if he plans on leaving his home armed a CCW class & permit.
    These are things readers need to be made aware of that your average gun owner does. Not just buy a gun and a box of ammo, go home, load it and stick it in a drawer.

  • James May 27, 2014, 11:00 pm

    I share these links. And offer that a revolver allows for getting away fast without stopping to pick up shell casings.
    Only a Nagant revolver can be silenced, but there are auto 22 magnum pistols. A special 22 magnum with custom bullets might be interesting. Or a custom(pair of custom) ten round Nagant style revolver(s) chambered for 22 magnum might impress some.
    I believe my suggestions to be accurate.
    Best Regards,
    James Moyer

  • Noel P. Mellen May 27, 2014, 10:39 pm

    The PPK was and still is a fine weapon. Its claim to fame is it was the 1st double action pistol (abet a heavy trigger pull) abd its small size is a plus. Beauty is always a feature of the pistol and in its original blue its hard to beat. The .380 or Browning short 9mm is still a much used cartridge. For years I carried one as a primary weapon. Finally, I replaced it (although it still sits proudly in my collection) due to the heavy trigger pull in double action and the small magazine capacity. There are better and newer weapons out there in that caliber. I always liked the BDA .380, The Sig 230 (minus the heel magazine release) and for accuracy and magazine capacity the CZ 83 is hard to beat.
    That being said so much more exists in calibers and platforms today. The 9X19, the .40S&W and many more find their ways into new concealable and useful weapons. My preference, all things being equal, is the .40 S&W. Many friends prefer the .357 automatic cartridge, but here the lack of choice in loads (assuming you are not a reloader) and the restriction in models that use it keep me and many others away from it. The Glocks in .40S&W in their 22, 23 and smaller versions are great in this caliber. In 9×19 there exists a host of fine automatic pistols. From the BHP on the choices are limited only by ones’ preferences. In the smaller concealable field Ruger’s little 9mm is excellent and many- many more. Personally I carry a Masterpiece Arms .380 protector. Depending on the need I upscale to a CZ 75B in .40 S&W, Walter P99 or Beretta Storm 9more recently). Having seen slide ruptured on the Beretta 92s series (all were military models) I quit using their model 96. The Storm has none of the drawbacks. If one need superior knockdown power the .45acps are near impossible to beat and an Officer’s model or baring that an older Commander are hard to beat.
    Have the author handle and shoot a variety of these and then let him make up his mind as to what he wants his character to use.

  • John Nicholson May 27, 2014, 10:04 pm

    Please tell Mr. Maloney to contact me at the email address I have provided for real world, real life firearm advice that will make sense in the context of his books. Use of a firearm in self deffense is both more complicated than the general public realizes, and far less complicated than the general public realizes. The same as bullets have far less power than the TV viewing audience thinks and at the same time they are far more destructive than these same viewers think. I believe I can help him make the firearm related parts of his book both realistic and reasonable while not making it read like a gun-nuts technical manual. Thank you.

  • Woodgrinder May 27, 2014, 9:35 pm

    For the night stand, double stack STI with the medium to high cap mags. This will be good to fight your way to the AR or shotgun in the tactical safe which should be in the bedroom also. Car gun Glock 19 or 23. On your person Glock 19 or 23 or Keltec 9mm pocket gun. The Keltec P3AT is another good pocket option. Good flash lights likely gun mounted for the house and car. Laser options for carry and all else.

  • Jeff Goldstein May 27, 2014, 9:07 pm

    Stay with Walther but get something modern and one not seen a lot. I would recommend a Walther P99 Compact in 9mm. It is very accurate, relatively easy to conceal. Galco makes great holsters including in some exotic materials like Alligator, Shark, Stingray, Ostrich or Horsehide. He could also have a second handgun, the full size P99, when he wants something bigger.

  • GI Joe May 27, 2014, 5:54 pm

    Great! Go from a .380 to a .380 magnum (9 mm Parabellum). Very poor choice, in my opinion. The “set-up” only speaks about home defense. For that purpose, almost any arm will do. A 12 ga. shotgun is a bit overpowered, in my opinion. I would prefer a 20 ga. w/18″ bbl. I’m a 1911 fan. Even for concealed carry I prefer a tried and true, idiot-proof design. Any arm that was carried in combat over nearly 80 years is good enough for me. If the author chooses a 1911 for his character, it should always be carried “cocked and locked” with a round chambered as Browning intended. Having fired the .380, .40, and .45, I find little real difference in felt recoil. Therefore, I would suggest a compact model (such as the Colt Defender or Springfield Armory Ultra Compact) 1911 in .45 ACP. The choice of holster is much more complex. Inside-the-waistband v. shoulder rig v. outside-the-waistband under a coat are all viable options. If the character is in good physical condition (i.e. slim or, at least, not fat) an IWB carry may be the best choice. If he drives a lot, a shoulder rig may suit better due to easier access and draw while seated. Too many variables go into holster and carry method to discuss here.

    • SSGRick June 13, 2016, 5:01 pm

      If I were to carry a 1911 in .45 it would ONLY be a Kimber!

  • DaveW May 27, 2014, 5:05 pm

    A career in law enforcement, I started with a Colt Pony .380 for a backup. Compact, light weight. Limited capacity, but a) I go for accuracy over quantity, and b) it’s easy to slap in another magazine.

    Today, my personal favorite is a Kimber Ultra Carry II .45 cal. Still limited capacity, but knockdown power. Special Ops teams in the military have a wide choice of weapons to use, and many members favor the .45 cal over the 9 mm. The USAF is looking at a return to the .45 cal for their police personnel. The UC II is concealable. Put it in a Yaqui holster. My next step up is a Kimber 1911 .45 cal which uses the same holster. A girlfriend of mine is a very small and people thought she was nuts when she pulled out her Kimber Ultra .45 cal and commenced to shoot tightly knit groups.

    I like the idea that the author is actually doing research. I used to hate reading a book and coming to a section that mentions a safety for a revolver, or some other such nonsense.

    I also highly support the idea of going to a range where you can try out weapons. Feel them first. Some just naturally fit your hand and others definitely do not. Some, like the PPK can take chunks out of your hand. Don’t forget that the weapon will weigh more loaded. This kind of range gives people the opportunity to get a real feel of the weapon.

    Firearms are like cars. Some people like Chevys and some people like Fords. Some like SUVs and some like sports cars.(I also have a Colt 1911, S&W Mod 19 .357, and others.)

  • Jeff Long May 27, 2014, 4:13 pm

    For small size and firepower, consider the Boberg XR9-S . The -S has a 3.35 inch barrel yet is slightly shorter than the PPK/s. It shoots full house 9mm, yet is amazingly small. It is a double action only, no safeties to contend with. Due to the nature of the action, it does have some ammo problems with some loads due to light crimps on the rounds. Just keep it fed with Federal 124
    grain Hydra Shok or the Speer 124 grain Gold Dot, or other loads from the compatible list and you will never look back. The choice of a Boberg is exotic enough to please some people, yet reliable enough to please others. A good IWB holster at the 4 o’clock position should be workable and an in the pocket mag holder should do. For the golf bag gun, a Winchester 1300 Defender with a Speedfeed birds head pistol grip is a nice set up. Just use a Big Bertha club cover.

  • J. Atwood May 27, 2014, 3:49 pm

    Cz-82. It’s a reliable compact pistol, with a 12 round double stack mag, chambered in the 9mm Makarov. This round has more stopping power than the .380, comparable with the 9mm para and 38 special, with much less recoil than larger carts. The cz-82 is small enough to be. carried concealed in a hip or shoulder holster comfortably, but it’s a bit too wide for an ankle holster.

  • J. Atwood May 27, 2014, 3:47 pm

    Cz-82. It’s a reliable compact pistol, with a 12 round double stack mag, chambered in the 9mm Makarov. This round has more stopping power than the .380, comparable with the 9mm para and 38 special, with much less recoil than larger carts. The cz-82 is small enough to be carried concealed in a hip or shoulder holster comfortably, but it’s a bit too wide for an ankle holster.

  • Dick Johnson May 27, 2014, 3:16 pm

    The sig. is fine.The 380 is fine. Shooting 9MM or 45 in compact and sub compact guns is not easy and are hard to control that leaves big guns which are better for recoil and control but not easy to carry.
    With the new 380 ammo your choice of the PPK is great for defence and carry.

  • Thom Sutton May 27, 2014, 2:49 pm

    The Kahr 4543 with its 4″ barrel has to be the greatest gun to carry there is. Light and accurate.

  • Shawn Dodson May 27, 2014, 2:42 pm

    FWIW, I provided technical assistance to author Robert Waters for his book “Guns Save Lives: True Stories of Americans Defending Their Lives With Firearms”.

    As for the gun(s) – I suggest the 9mm Glock 19 as the primary carry gun. It has proven reliability and is the choice of many professionals. I’d also suggest the smaller 9mm Glock 26 for situations in which a little more concealability is required (specifically with clothing where the heel of the Glock 19’s pistol grip prints through the fabric) and a there’s a need for greater magazine capacity than a single-stack 9mm. A third option would be a 9mm Kahr PM-9, for situations when magazine capacity must be compromised for greater concealability. My final suggestion is a Seecamp .32 ACP for pocket carry/deep concealment/backup. All four pistols have a common manual of arms (and no manual safety), which allows one skill set to apply to all guns.

    As for holsters, for times when moderate concealment is required an inside waistband (IWB) holster, such as the Milt Sparks Executive’s Companion, for the Glocks and Kahr, worn behind the strong side hip. In situations where there’s a concern that the IWB holster behind the strong side hip might might become exposed due to physical activity or type of clothing to be worn, then a standard OWB belt holster, like a Galco Avenger, worn at 3/9 o’clock on the strong side hip offers a little more control. (The smaller Glock 26 can be carried interchangeably in a Glock 19 holster.) For the Seecamp, a leather pocket holster, like from RGrizzle, carried primarily in the weak side front pocket, allows access to a gun with either hand in case of physical grappling or compromised body positioning.

    Good luck with your novel.

  • Dan May 27, 2014, 1:59 pm

    If I had the money this person has…a 38 super being accurate, low muzzle blast, low recoil, etc. would work great.

  • Bill Martin May 27, 2014, 12:37 pm

    If I were to arm him with a weapon that is both concealable and has plenty of punch, I’d arm him with a Springfield Armory XDS in .45 acp or the XDM in .40. While both are quite concealable, the XDM has a bit of a size advantage over the XDS. Since both pistols are double action, there is no safety on them, nor is it needed, and the question of whether to carry with the safety on or off is solved. Since I know nothing about the hero, I don’t know what holster to recommend. If he is in the custom of wearing a jacket of some kind, I might suggest a shoulder holster. If he does not wear a jacket, I would suggest an inside the waistband holster that could be covered by a casual shirt worn with the tail out. For an outside the waistband holster, I’d suggest a Kydex holster for quick access. For deep cover or when wearing minimal clothing such as when jogging, I’d suggest one of the crotch holsters with a small .380 or 9mm semi auto.

  • Ernie May 27, 2014, 12:34 pm

    9×18 Mak is a good choice if it’s needed for concealment. I have 2 in this caliber, a Hungarian FEG PA-63, which is a Walther PP clone. It’s very narrow, has a 7 round magazine and more power than a .380 cal. My second is a CZ-82 which is a very strong action and reliable. It points great plus you have a 12 round magazine.

    Lastly, if a full 9mm is the choice, it has better power that the .380 or 9×18, my choice would be either a Taurus PT709 “Slim” in 9mm which has a magazine capacity of 7 or a Taurus 24/7 G2 Compact with a 12 round magazine and a 17 round magazine. After all, no one ever said “less bullets, please!”

  • Gary Martin May 27, 2014, 12:14 pm

    Go with a 45 ACP caliber, or if you want to go more obscure, 357 Sig or 45 GAP in the subcompact frame size.
    Glock, Springfield XD, Khar, S&W M&P Shield all have one or all of these calibers in a sub-compact size EDC gun. Glock has no manual safety, although they can be installed aftermarket. Most believe it is a waste of time, literally. You can get an XD pistol with or without a manual safety. I don’t recall if the M&P line have an optional safety, but for striker fired poly frame pistols, it is generally not advised. They all have inherent safeties in their design. If you want to go really small, then you’l have to stay with 9mm x 19 (Luger). The thing with smaller calibers is that you have to be more accurate with them to stop someone. Kel-tec, Kahr, Broberg, Seacamp, Ruger and many others make pocket size 9mm pistols. i would stay away from anything smaller than 9mm. If I had to go smaller, I would probably go with 22LR. They have deep penetration capability, they are easy to shoot, no recoil, and are much quieter. What most people don’t realize is that after the first shot with any centerfire round, you will not be able to hear any verbal commands for a 5-10 minutes. This is almost never portrayed in media and it will have a performance impact.
    For concealment in all weather conditions, a tuckable IWB holster is best, although you can also go with a Sneaky Pete outside box flap holster (looks like a big PDA case). If you can always have a secure cover garment, then any of the OWB holsters will do. Shoulder rigs are banned from most competition matches, so you will not be able to practice with them under stressful conditions. For IBW, kidney carry is the best, for the Sneaky Pete, 3 o’clock carry is the best. For training, get involved in one of the organized shooting matches like IDPA, Steel Challenge, USPSL or even 3 gun. There are also unaffiliated amateur matches held at most gun store ranges and private clubs, such as bowling pin, action pistol, 2 gun and the like (usually private clubs open their range on such events). Also Bulls Eye competition is good training for accuracy. You need to shoot 150-300 rounds per month over at least 2 events. Don’t get all crazy with the latest equipment and try to be an overnight champion. Treat all such events like practice and get the bare minimum equipment to participate. In between matches devote at least an hour a week (15-20 minutes spread out is OK) of dry fire practice. Learn and memorize the 4 basic gun safety rules before ever touching a gun.
    1. Treat all firearms as if they were loaded
    2. Never point a firearm at anything you don’t intend to destroy
    3. Keep your finger out of the trigger area until you are aligned on your target
    4. Know your target and what’s behind it.
    Some will say these rules don’t apply in defensive situations, but I say they are even more important. In a lethal encounter, the last thing you want is to injure or kill an innocent or yourself.

  • R. B. Barton May 27, 2014, 11:36 am

    On the few occasions that I go to a golf course in a bad neighborhood, I actually do bring my Stainless Steel Walther PPK.
    Fortunately it has stayed in my bag, but I have heard of instances where people were held up there. It may be old, but I’m quite comfortable with it.
    When I want more power, I prefer my EAA 10mm. Better ballistics than .357 mag, hits harder than .45, and it still holds 15 rounds. SWEET!
    I just wish Beretta, Sig, Walther, or Magnum Research would make one.

  • JimT May 27, 2014, 11:25 am

    I carry a Ruger LC9, (9 mm with 7 round single stack mag.) and it is awesome. It conceals perfectly, even when wearing just a tee shirt. My holster is a DE Santis Gunhide model- the insider. I carry it inside the waistband at approx. 5 o’clock position and it just disappears from sight, is comfortable to wear and most of the time I forget that I have it on. Access is quick and easy by hooking the edge of the tee shirt with the right thumb and while lifting the shirt I simultaneously draw the pistol.
    This pistol is very high quality and very accurate. After shooting about 21 rounds through it at close range I backed off to 25 yards and with the off hand position placed 7 rounds in center mass with two in the 10 ring bulls eye.
    The features of this pistol that I like the most are:
    It is double action all the time so you do not have to carry it with the hammer back, or “locked and cocked.”
    It has a safety that works just like the thumb safety on a 1911 45 A.C.P. which affords a little more assurance and peace of mind when carrying and re-holstering yet is easily switched off wit a flick of the thumb upon drawing.
    It is hammer less as far as any protruding hammer to snag on clothing. (It does have a recessed hammer though).
    The entire pistol has rounded over edges for comfortable carry and to alleviate snagging on clothing.
    It just feels great to hold in your hand. A perfect fit for my hands that are not real small but definitely not large.
    I am totally satisfied with the Ruger LC9 for personal protection, and if I were still a police officer (12 years) I would not hesitate to carry it as my back-up weapon.

  • Craig Ramsey May 27, 2014, 11:20 am

    I carry a Seecamp .32acp in a wallet holster. Probably not as much punch as a .380 which is really a 9mm short. It is a 7 shot DAO, no safety, well made, stainless pistol. I chose the Seecamp cuz the size and weight of the gun make it easy to carry and the chances of actually having to use it are very small.

    For a cool spy gun, I suggest the FN 5.7. He can shoot people with it at 70-100 yds and be realistic. Basically a high velocity (2800 fps) rifle round in a pistol format. Has optional armor piercing bullets. Its not really for concealed carry, he would probably carry in a shoulder holster. Its mostly popular with law enforcement in Europe. The guns mentioned in these responses are mostly plastic guns with velocities to about 1100fps and are really only good for about 20 yds at best.

    You should also consider a S&W 1006 or 1066 10mm just to get in the face of 9mm and .40 owners. Its was discontinued after FBI thought it was too much gun and picked the .40 s&w (slow and weak) which is a 10mm shortened. About 1300-1600fps. Or something is a .357sig which is a .40 case necked to a 9mm bullet for higher velocity. (1200-1500fps)

    You could also try the little known COP .357 mag which is basically a hammer-less 4 barrel derringer. It is not something you would take to the range very much as it is pretty punishing. Got no idea who makes a holster for it, maybe ace bandage on a ankle. I think the company that makes it went out of business in 1984.

    You can look these up on line.

  • E. Hensen May 27, 2014, 10:46 am

    As some who spent years carrying and using a Walther PPK, when the time came I decided to upgrade to 9mm. I tried plenty of guns and finally settled on the Taurus 709 slim, with a tiny Pierce Grip Extension to rest my small finger. I carry it in the small of my back reversed so I can get to it palm out. Totally concealed and with Hornady Critical Defense ammunition, I can defend myself or others with complete confidence.

  • Russ Newkirk May 27, 2014, 10:39 am

    My pick for smaller than a PPK with a more powerful caliber goes to the C.O.P. Derringer. I have ALWAYS liked this pint sized flame thrower. After 4 shots it is still extremely useful as a palm sized hunk of stainless that can be reloaded or makes for one helluva club.

  • Bryan Johnson May 27, 2014, 10:08 am

    Training? He’d go to an NRA-qualified CCW course, naturally. Typically, these courses are two days, one day for going over the laws and responsibilities concerning carrying a concealed weapon and the second for firearms safety and proficiency. Your readers would probably be interested to learn that such courses are required before getting a CCW permit. As for the readiness state while carrying: In the highest alert stage — when the character would like to be able to respond to a threat as quickly as possible — he would have a round in the chamber, hammer cocked, safety on. That way, if he had to draw, all he’d have to do is thumb off the safety and he could fire. If he doesn’t really like that idea — it may seem too dangerous to him, although it really isn’t — then he’d probably carry with a round in the chamber, hammer down, safety on. It would add two steps between drawing and firing, though: manually cocking the hammer with his thumb and then thumbing off the safety. All of this assumes a single-action semi-auto pistol; with a double action only pistol, there is no external hammer, so he could carry with a round in the chamber and the safety on. Good on you for trying to get the details right; nothing is more annoying for a reader who knows the basics about firearms than to hit a mistake in the middle of an exciting scene. By the way, I’m a full-time freelance writer, myself (non-fiction only, mainly commercial articles although I’ve written a couple of non-fiction books as well). If you want a reader to check the gun details before you submit your ms to the publisher, I’d be happy to do it for you (ask the folks at GA for my email address) in return for an introduction to your agent. (That offer for a trade should let you know that, yes, I really am a writer.)

  • Bruce jones May 27, 2014, 10:07 am

    I like the 9×18 idea, but why re-chamber a PPk? The Makarov pistol is the most reliable one out there. They can be dragged through the sand, submerged in anything and still fire reliably! You can load it with 115 g Buffalo bore hollow points! The sand and water attribute lends itself well to the Golfer/Shooter hero!

  • Ron May 27, 2014, 9:28 am

    In order to determine the type of gun the character should carry, we would need to know the situation that the character will carry it and use it. Just like in real life.

    IMO, the author should go to a gun range where they rent a variety of different handguns and long guns then have a certified instructor help the author to shoot a variety of different weapons and try out different holsters and carry methods in front of a mirror to actually feel and see what different weapon systems are capable of. If the author tries different clothing and positions he will quickly understand many of the limitations that different weapon systems have.

    If the character has purchased the gun for home defense to be left in the home, the options and reasons for choosing the weapon are almost limitless. Almost any choice is acceptable and open to discussion with very defensible choices.

    If the character has purchased the gun for concealed carry in an environment where concealment is the highest priority with accuracy and firepower as secondary concerns (because the character is in situations where potential threats are close) like an office or house dealing with clients, then a very small, thin, and light pistol or revolver would be my first choice. I used to carry a Keltec P-3AT for that since it was the smallest, lightest pistol with the largest caliber round available for pistol size. I switched to the Taurus PT738 TCP because the trigger is very much better and it has all the features the P-3AT should have with very little more weight and size. I carry this pistol in environments where no one must know that I am carrying. The disadvantage of this pistol is that it carries only 6 rounds and even +P cartridges are not that powerful. I get very good accuracy out to 15 meters with this pistol. The light weight with higher power rounds can be abusive and requires lots of practice to be able to shoot multiple shots quickly and accurately.

    Use of a hammerless polymer framed revolver chambered in .357 is a good choice for concealed carry in a jacket pocket. The character has the choice of a variety of ammunition from 38 special all the way up to .357 heavy loads depending on how the author wants to “geek out” on weapon tech. While slightly larger than the very small semi-automatic pistols, the revolver has the advantage that it can be fired multiple times inside the pocket without jamming or the need to remove the gun from the pocket. That is why I carry this type of handgun in my winter coats and jackets. The author could utilize this as part of novel if the main protagonist is trying to defend himself in a close range encounter that comes upon him unexpectedly (because of poor situational awareness as an example).

    If the main character is to have a gun and use it in a athletic situation like golfing, there are very few choices that I can think of where the weapon can be carried on the character and be readily accessible as well as being concealed. Carrying in a holster on the belt, IWB, small of the back, or with a shoulder rig would often be visible during the event and would almost certainly interfere with athletic performance. Envision yourself teeing up for a drive down the fairway with a pistol stuck in your waistband or in the small of your back (or on a shoulder rig). Through experience, I can guarantee that only a masochist or someone who doesn’t care about doing well will keep that gun on them more than two swings of the club. Carrying a pistol in a cargo pocket on the thigh is almost the only option that seems to work for me. Having the pistol in a waist pants pocket or on the butt just interferes with correct movement for the swing.

    Keeping a weapon in a golf bag is also acceptable and a reasonable alternative even though that has been used quite often in pulp novels and poor movies. The author should remember that he can’t have the character leave the golf bag on his cart when he goes to make his shot. The character needs to either not use a golf cart or take his bag with him at all times to be close to the weapon. Of course the author can use this to lend tension to the novel by having the protagonist in a confrontation where he has to get to his weapon to defend himself against their attacker(s).

    I really don’t think the author should get too hung up on the choice between makes and models of weapons unless it is germane to the plot and scene development. Does it really matter that the character is using a Glock vs. a Beretta vs. a S&W XD vs. a Sig Sauer in 9mm.? It is more distracting when an author claims that a character uses a handgun with open sites to make consistent one shot kills on attackers more than 20 meters away. Especially when people are moving. Yes, it is possible if the person doing the shooting has a LOT of experience shooting at moving targets in a hostile environment and practices this often. It is not when the character has just purchased the weapon with no prior experience and only occasionally goes to the range to shoot at stationary targets in a non-threatening environment. Similarly, using a very small pistol or revolver with high powered ammunition accurately and quickly does not happen realistically. Inexperienced shooters do not have correct skills to handle the punishing recoil and displacement from multiple shots. It takes a lot of practice to shoot quickly and accurately without developing a flinch with high powered rounds in a small, light handgun (or long gun for that matter).

  • Rhet Redpath May 27, 2014, 9:25 am

    I agree, he should experiment with several guns before deciding. I have guns of every caliber from a PPK, through a Beretta 96FS (great gun) up to a 1911 in .45 but, of them all, I choose to carry a perfect compromise. My “defender” is a Ruger SR40c, with a Crimson Trace laser sight, and Hornaday Critical Defense rounds. Easy to conceal in a tuck holster, reliable, with little recoil. He should also look very seriously at one of those “Hollywood Specials” know the ones…one shot, one kill, EVERY time…wish I could find one of those.

  • Muhjesbude May 27, 2014, 9:23 am


    First of all, why does the author find it necessary to replicate James Bond? The ppk back in the day was pretty advanced and although it hold’s its own with the right ammo, it’s not the most ‘modern’ of choices to impress readership. His LOFT gag was pretty good. He should expand upon that ‘novelty and at the same time retaliate against the moron leftist status quo with a ‘cloaked’ dis of his own to these leftist tyrannists ? Are any of the terrorists the good guys kill at the end also corrupt politicians?

    He should write a scene where Brad is at the 18th hole clubhouse in a gin game drinking Milwaukee’s Best Ice (not those arrogant martinis like JB drank) and complaining about his absence of shooting skills, and one of the ‘boys’ offers a solution he can’t refuse.

    After the game, his gambling friend takes him out to the SUV with darkly tinted windows and digs out a small suitcase unlocks it and lo and behold, two matching Mac-10 9mm smgs, (or .380’s if you want) with a dozen 32 round mags filled with special HV Israeli AP smg ammo, Micro reflex sights, and optional compact suppressors. And, even a tactical nylon double brace concealable shoulder holsters. These also have the wire form extending stocks to ‘better’ aim for better hit potential.

    Brad’s friend says: ” If you’re really worried about using a gun, these will take the ‘edge’ off the cliff jump!”
    Brad says: “Dude, are these for real?”
    “No, they’re just for Chuck Norris movies.”
    “Don’t i need a special permit, or something?
    “Nah, You don’t even need a background check”
    “What a great country”
    “Yeah, it used to be”

    The scene could then be expanded to a brief training period where accuracy was not the emphasis, for obvious anecdotal reasons, but simply a short, but intense, period of mechanical function and use training. ie: loading cocking, pointing firing, repetitions, which would be far more acceptable realism in actual scenario, than somebody who was not a pro pistolero attempting ridiculous shots with a ppk on the fly or whatever at any distance over 10 feet!

    Or put another way, If you were popping a MAC smg loaded with hot ammo at a jet ski even out to a hundred meters with the shoulder stock extended, you would be amazed how fast they would be sinking. Even if you weren’t a top match shooter, as long as you had a modicum of familiarity practice. A Mac can also be configured without needing a mag release button. Just a ball pressure detent. Just pull the empty mag out and put a full one in. So you can ‘realistically’ detail some high action firepower plausibility to even the most ‘die-hard’ reality nitpickers, lol!

    One last thing, my particular ‘specialty’ was training operators for optimal performance in the shortest time period possible. So if his character Brad is a novice shooter like i used to train, if we couldn’t get them up to level in the time period, we’d mockingly hand them a grenade and say “If you just can’t seem to hit the target with your gun with your first few shots, quickly use this, instead.”

  • Patrick Malone May 27, 2014, 9:22 am

    I won’t presume to proffer advice on this subject, as I am sure there are much more experienced shooters than I. I will though applaud your effort in seeking advice before writing your book. So many do not. Thank you for your effort.

    Patrick Malone
    3d Force Recon
    RVN 68-69

  • George Juillerat May 27, 2014, 9:01 am

    I would have the PPK re-chambered in 9×18 so it had a little more punch. Carried inside the waistband on the right side front. Easy to get to and well hidden under a golf shirt. Remember people don’t fly back when shot (like in the movies) they tend to fold in on themselves.

  • Dave May 27, 2014, 8:55 am

    If he likes the Walther, the best and most sensible step up would be a Sig P938. About the same size and bulk, simple, rugged 1911 design, flawless functioning and full-house 9mm. Also surprisingly accurate and easy to shoot. More power, absolute reliability and compact size: what’s the downside?

  • Jim May 27, 2014, 8:34 am

    Some good choices mentioned here. I would stay with a 9, since the character is a relative newcomer to shooting. The Crossbreed holster is a good choice , as is the Galco King Tuk. You might have the character experiment with several guns before picking one he likes best.

  • Juan May 27, 2014, 8:34 am

    I would go with the Springfield XDS in 45 acp. Why? Because it is to conceal. It’s lightweight. Recoil is very manageable. Even when shooting one handed. It’s also very accurate right out of the box. And it breaks down very easy for cleaning. I would keep the Walther PPK as a backup gun.
    As for training. He would enroll at the Firearms Institute outside of Las Vegas. He’d get some of the best training there is. He could become a member and go back anytime he needs to train for anything else.

  • Dan May 27, 2014, 7:54 am

    Never a very popular round but the Federal 327 Mag used in the Ruger SP101 with a 3″barrel would be my choice. I also own the PPKS 380 and love it. But since I no longer get out to the firing range on a regular basis, I always wonder if I would remember if the safety was on or off if I had to use it under a panic situation. My 327 Mag does not have a safety so no worry there. I really prefer a wheel gun for self defense.

    • Muhjesbude May 27, 2014, 9:40 am

      Dan, you can ‘prefer’ a wheel gun if you want. Or put another way, “if you want to keep your wheel gun, you can keep your wheel gun”, lol!

      But why would you? Revolvers now fall into the category of ‘better than nothing’. If you went through the six rounds in the wheel and had to reload fast, you better hope your muscle memory would recall how to use the speed loader, instead of worrying about remembering the safety!

      There are plenty of nice DA only no safety automatics out there that are just as reliable as a revolver and with higher capacity. and there is certainly 9mm ammo out there, and even some .380 that does anything your .357 round can do for all practical purposes.

      • M. Johnson May 27, 2014, 12:47 pm

        ‘Bude, are you making typo errors or thinking errors? There was no .357 mentioned. A .380 with a hot load might approach what a .38 Special can do… but a .327 FEDERAL MAGNUM can easily shoot 500 ft-lbs muzzle energy.

  • Sergio May 27, 2014, 7:23 am

    Smith & Wesson M&P .40 Shield extended magazine in a small of the back, inside the waistband Crossbreed Holster with an extra magazine carrier. Modern, stealth ccw. It’s a legit US setup, less poser and immediately makes the character more firearm savvy. Eschew the spy BS and create an American hero.

  • Mike Kolendo May 27, 2014, 7:17 am

    what is wrong with the Springfield XDS in 45 caliber? It is small, accurate for each size, lightweight and easy to conceal.

  • Ken May 27, 2014, 6:12 am

    The NEW single stack magazine Glock 9mm pistol (model yet to be announced). No, one has not been made yet(that we are aware of), but I hope to see one! The model 42’s success definitely calls for Glock to make a 9mm single stack! I predict they will!!

  • Mike Cline May 26, 2014, 11:59 pm

    If you stay with .380 I would go with a Beretta 84FS or 85FS. Either more reliable than the PPK 84FS holds 13+1 rounds. A Beretta or Bianchi holster should work nicely. If upgrade to 9mm would go with Sig Sauer P239 or Glock 26.

  • Zeno Streletz May 25, 2014, 8:51 am

    He buys a Dirty Harry .44 magnum with a 6 inch bbl. to make it easier to carry. He uses a Bianci shoulder holster
    (the bottom of which attaches to his belt). A jacket completely covers the rig. Metallic silhouette shooters shoot their .44 magnums out to 300 Meters and knock down metal sheep targets. A good pistol shooter can give a rifle
    shooter a run for his money.

  • Bruce F. May 24, 2014, 4:09 pm

    Stephens can remain brand loyal and trade that PPK for a PPS 9mm.

    • Ron Evartt May 27, 2014, 2:49 pm

      When choosing a cc gun a lot of factors play into the equation. First, the best gun to carry is any gun you can. There’s a saying, “better to testify before 12 than to be carried by 6”. A persons physical ability is a big consideration: and I mean the ability to rack a slide, or squeeze the trigger, load a magazine, weight of the gun… Next is conceal-ability: are you wearing a suit, a dress, t-shirt and jeans, shorts w/ no shirt… There are many holsters these days for all types of carry options. Best is: whatever is most comfortable and quickest to access the gun if needed. A suit for many would be a shoulder holster/cross draw. A woman in a dress would likely have a purse made for cc, or a Velcro holster to access through her blouse. A man or woman in jeans and t-shirt would most likely use an inner waist band (IWB) holster, or an ankle holster. Train and practice, practice, practice.

    • Ron Evartt May 27, 2014, 2:52 pm

      When choosing a cc gun a lot of factors play into the equation. First, the best gun to carry is any gun you can. There’s a saying, “better to testify before 12 than to be carried by 6”. A persons physical ability is a big consideration: and I mean the ability to rack a slide, or squeeze the trigger, load a magazine, weight of the gun… Next is conceal-ability: are you wearing a suit, a dress, t-shirt and jeans, shorts w/ no shirt… There are many holsters these days for all types of carry options. Best is: whatever is most comfortable and quickest to access the gun if needed. A suit for many would be a shoulder holster/cross draw. A woman in a dress would likely have a purse made for cc, or a Velcro holster to access through her blouse. A man or woman in jeans and t-shirt would most likely use an inner waist band (IWB) holster, or an ankle holster. Train and practice, practice, practice.

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