Thursday, July 30, 2015

How to Choose a CCW

How to Choose Your First Carry Gun

Choosing your first carry gun is not like choosing a spouse. It's not a lifelong commitment, you won't hurt its' feelings if you don't want it anymore and you can never go wrong trading it in. That being said, you should do some research before you buy a firearm, and I'll tell you how to be smart about it.

What other roles will your carry gun play?

First off, decide what other uses this gun will serve. Since I'm specifically talking about choosing a carry gun, you'll need to decide how you'll carry it and what other roles it will play for you. Will it be a range gun? A home defense gun? These are things that need to be addressed prior to choosing.

Size matters


Most will agree that a carry gun should be a compact or sub compact if you plan on concealed carry. The firearm should be thin, easy to conceal and popular enough that you can find a decent IWB holster for it. You should keep magazine capacity in mind, but you can always carry a few spare magazines if need be.

If you will be open carrying, then the firearm does not have to be smaller so as to be easily concealed. If concealability isn't the deciding factor, there are many more options for you to choose from.

If this weapon will also be used for home defense, you should think about caliber, magazine capacity,and ease of use. Be mindful of the fact that in a robbery/break-in type of situation, your adrenaline will be going, your thoughts will be in chaos, and the last thing you will want to do is fumble with a bunch of safeties. On the other hand, if you have children and would feel more secure with a pistol that has a safety, do some research and figure out what works best for you. Familiarize yourself with it, take it to the range.

For a carry gun that will double as a range gun, you'll want a higher magazine capacity and a longer barrel for accuracy. You'll also want something reliable that won't die on you for using crappy ammo. And you will use crappy ammo- at least sometimes- because if it's a range gun, that means you'll actually be shooting it often and buying ammo can get expensive. 


You'll want to keep a budget in mind while shopping. Unless you've got deep pockets, I would spend about $500-600 or less on your first carry gun. This gives you a pretty wide range of guns to choose from. If you'll be carrying this gun, you'll need to keep the cost of a decent  holster in mind as well.


Don't decide on the caliber before you decide on the gun. If you shoot better with a 9mm pistol than with a .45 and it feels more comfortable in your hands, don't buy the .45 because it's a .45! Do think about your budget and ask yourself: Can I afford to practice regularly using this ammo? Also, do think about how easy it is to find that caliber, as some are more easily found than others.  

There is no caliber that will stop an attacker with one shot. Don't bother asking other people which you should decide on, as you'll just start one hell of a debate and end up in the same place you started.

Ask the Right Questions


As a regular in just about every forum you can think of, I always see posts by first time gun buyers asking, "Which should I choose: the Shield or the Glock?" The responses for "the right one" are usually equaled in number, and then there may or may not be a debate between calibers somewhere in between. I'm guessing that the guy asking the question is then left even more confused, and is now back to square one.
Instead of asking the forum which gun you should choose, ask more specific questions about each gun. If you are debating between the Shield and the Glock 43, ask the owners of both what they like and don't like about their guns.
Also, read multiple gun reviews, but more importantly, read the comments below the review. There is always a chance that the reviewer has been paid to write a review or they may be biased about a certain brand or caliber. There is also a chance that they have no idea what they're talking about, which you will quickly be able to determine by reading the comments below.

Shoot It If You Can


Shoot as many guns as you can before you buy. Find a range that will let you rent a couple of guns for a decent price, invite any buddies that have guns you might be interested in, and go shoot. If you don't have the budget to shoot to your heart's content, watch you tube videos of other people shooting. Sounds silly, but at least it gives you a visual.


Since this will also be an item you'll carry daily, choose a gun that you can easily find a holster for. Many buyers neglect to think about this when shopping for a gun. They'll buy a rare, off the wall firearm that they got a great deal on, and then they can't carry it in anything but a nylon holster because holster companies don't have the mold for it.

A good Kydex holster will run from $45-100, depending on color and any attachments you have on the gun. A good leather holster will cost $50-100, and hybrids will cost $25-70. Don't skimp on the holster, this is something you'll be carrying (hopefully) daily, and you'll want something that will last the life of the gun itself.


You're not marrying this gun. If you buy it used, you'll most likely be able to sell it for around the same price. Don't go to the gun show and buy a strange gun you'll never find a holster or box of ammo for, and don't spend so much money on a gun that you can't even buy ammunition for it. Make sure it fits into your hand and your budget, its comfortable to carry around, and you have a high enough round capacity that you can actually hit a target without daily practice.

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