1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Choosing a carry gun

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by devildave31, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. devildave31

    devildave31 New Member

    Jul 25, 2009
    SW Missouri
    This is probably a subject that gets brought up over and over, but I'm gonna ask anyways.

    I keep reading posts which include something along the lines of " If your life is going to depend on it, then carry this, or don't carry that."

    With that in mind, my question is what do you base your decision on, as far as trusting a particular weapon with your life. I have only owned a few models of handgun, but after putting a number of rounds through each one reliably, and becoming confident with the sights and workings of the gun, I have never had the feeling that I could not trust my gun if my life were on the line.

    I have been in the military for 12 years and have fired many different weapons. I do not claim to be an expert by any means, but I'm no newbie either (except maybe compared to old timers who have been shooting 40-50 yrs). I'm just curious what the typical thought process is, when people say trust this or don't trust that.
  2. searcher451

    searcher451 Senior Member

    Jun 15, 2007
    The only guy who can figure out what gun is right for you and what gun to carry is you; everyone else's opinions, though offered in good spirit, no doubt, are merely that: opinions.

    For me, the process was a lengthy one. I tried a number of different handguns that I was comfortable with at the outset and then narrowed the process through a great deal of training and practice and range work. I ultimately narrowed the search to three different Walther PPK/S guns I owned and worked with them, one at a time, then in sequence, until I finally found the gun that felt the best and worked the best for my eye and my hand. I put upwards of 1,500 rounds of ammo through each of the three guns I had considered; one of them had a FTE at somewhere near the 1,000-round mark and was eliminated. The other two were close, but the one I ultimately selected just felt the best and gave me a bit of a tighter grouping.

    I shoot a handful of potential self-defense/carry guns routinely, always looking for a flaw, always looking one that produces better results than the next. I've switched a couple of times through the years. I'm currently breaking in a Walther PPS that I like a great deal. But as good as it is, and it's good, I'm still more comfortable at this point with a PPK/S and continue to use it as my daily carry gun. But I'm never satisfied, and I think that's a good thing.

    Hope that helps a bit.

    MICHAEL T Senior Member

    Feb 3, 2004
    outback Kentucky
    Carry what you trust and feel confident with. A hit with a 22 is better than a miss with a 44 mag. My self I am not comfortable with a 38 snub revolver . I have never really mastered the DA trigger and can't shoot one very accurate . I shoot better with a Colt Mustang or a KelTec. So I will carry one of those as a pocket pistol. Because I am old and I carried a 1911 in military for most of my career I like the 1911 for a belt pistol either a LTW Commander or my Defender.
    Again carry what YOU are comfortable with no matter caliber or type.
  4. Shadan7

    Shadan7 Member

    Jun 9, 2006
    devildave31, first off, welcome!

    As others have noted, it is a personal thing. Some people have extremely strict criteria in terms of hundreds of rounds of a particular ammo through a particular gun, needing to be a certain caliber or design, et cetera. More power to them.

    Personally, I'm like you (and I do qualify as one of those 'old timers', though I am not entirely pleased with that fact :eek: ) - if a gun has given me reliable service and I can shoot it well, then I don't worry much beyond that. Yeah, I test any given ammo, but if a gun feeds ammo reliably as a general rule, I don't worry about running hundreds of rounds through a gun.

    For the most part I figure that I am better off being something of a generalist and trusting my knowledge and experience with guns to keep me safe and deal with the unexpected, rather than going for the final 0.01% perfection from a specific gun. So I have four or five guns I feel completely confident in carrying, depending on my particular mood or dress needs.

    But that's me. YMMV.

    Jim D.
  5. calaverasslim

    calaverasslim Senior Member

    Jul 20, 2005
    San Antonio de Bejar
    I am with shadan7. I suspect he is a little older than I but no matter. I have been shooting 22's for about 64 years, SAA Colts for about 56 years and 1911's almost as long. I still have my SAA's but gravitate to my Smiths. I also have several 1911 45 acp's and CZ's in 9MM and 40s&w. But as much as I like all those, I am most comfortable with and carry a Smith. Yes, only 6 rounds but if you practice and become profecient, then 1 is all you need and the other 15 in the mag is wasted or saved for the next time,

    Bottom line, if your comfortable with and profecient with a semi, then go with it but if your comfortable and profecient with a revolver, then fine.

    The final decision is yours and yours alone.

    Good luck.
  6. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Home Of The First Capitol Of The Confederate State
    My suggestion in shopping "for the right handgun for YOU", is to visit a
    range that rents handguns; and shoot as many as your wallet allows.
    In other words, see what works "BEST" for YOU~! Then base your final
    decision on that. ;) :D
  7. mfcmb

    mfcmb Member

    Oct 2, 2008
    Well, I'll throw my 2 cents into the ring:

    o It has to be a gun you'll carry consistently: if it's not there when you need it then it's useless for protecting your life.

    o It has to be a gun that you can "run" reliably (loading, drawing, shooting, reloading, clearing malfunctions, etc.) under pressure and with your attention elsewhere.

    o It has to be reliable with your chosen self defense ammo. A given gun might run reliably with some kinds of ammo but not with others: So it's OK if there's some ammo that IT doesn't like, but it's not OK if it doesn't like the ammo YOU want to carry. I seem to recall Massad Ayoob recommending that it be able to shoot 200 rounds of your chosen ammo with no malfunctions.

    o It has to be one that you can shoot accurately under pressure, in low light, with your attention elsewhere, etc.

    o It has to be mechanically sound, well designed and manufactured, so that parts don't fall off, break, jam, etc.

    o It ought to be of a modern design with the internal safeties needed to keep it from firing if you drop it, or if it's out of battery, etc.

    I'd say that compared to the above, its caliber, trigger, action, etc. are all less important.

    And none of the above means anything unless you do your part: maintain it well, practice, wear a good belt and holster, know the law, maintain good situational awareness, have good tactical sense, etc.

  8. Dr_2_B

    Dr_2_B Senior Member

    Jan 4, 2006
    most important thing is reliability. the other stuff practically pales by comparison.
  9. Deus Machina

    Deus Machina Senior Member

    May 24, 2007
    Brandon, Florida
    Reliability and 'pointability' tie for first and foremost, for me. It has to be a gun that you know will work, one hundred percent of the time, and that you can point where you need to, when you need to, and be able to do it again a quarter-second after.

    After that, safety--can you carry it without it going off? Can you carry it with the hammer down, if it's a DA/SA or DAO? Is the safety, if you use it, naturally turned off when it comes into your hand?

    For me, my guns must be able to be carried hammer down, and be DA/SA. I may find a DAO I can use, but I haven't yet, and I'm not a fan of Glock-style systems. The safety is disengaged 90% of the time, and even when it's on (in the car, around friends) the way I grab the gun brushes it off with my thumb.

    Caliber is the last major consideration I have with a carry gun, but I do own a couple so I don't have to carry my .22's. Notice I said 'last major consideration'--I'd limit myself to .380 in an auto or .32H&R Magnum or .327 Federal in a revolver, as the smallest I'd go, and I'd much prefer 9mm or .38 Special as the smallest.

    Then again, I might respect .40, but I'm also too small to hide anything big enough that I'm comfortable shooting, so far. That brings us back to points 1 and 2--controlling it.

    Ammo choice comes after the choice of a gun, and you have to balance out what you can shoot from it. You might want semi-jacketed hollowpoint out of a snub-nosed .38, to balance penetration and expansion, or cast lead from a .32 ACP for the same reason; .32's seem to expand or penetrate. A .45 might not like the truncated cone shape of Hornady, like a friend of mine's, so you may go with the near-roundnose shape of Golden Saber or Winchester White Box HP's. Maybe your trusty old 9mm has a washboard feed ramp like, and won't feed any hollowpoints--Federal makes an expanding FMJ that hits like a brick.

    Point being, there are plenty of good choices--choose the gun before the ammo.

    So, the TL;DR version: Shoot everything you can. Find what's comfortable for you, what you can hit your target with, and then think of a caliber. Eight .32's out of a Walther are better than a 10mm out of a Glock that makes you roll your shoulder back for the second shot.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2009
  10. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

    Feb 20, 2008
    Austin, Texas
    Welcome to the High Road.

    Rule 1 of a gunfight is BRING A GUN

    concealability is a big thing for me. If I can't hide it I can't carry it. A lot of guys claim that they can hide an 8 inch model 29 wearing a thong and feathered boa while doing Ty Bo on the hood of a moving car.

    The Kahr PM9 hides well and is nice and flat. Dependable and I shoot it pretty well.

    I shoot my Colt Detective Special better but it does not hide as easily.

    In the winter, of which we get several days of in Texas, I sometimes carry something full size like an XD45.

    The bottom line is that you are probably not going to have just one carry gun.

    Things to note. A good belt is critical to carrying comfortably. I use a 5:11 reinforced instructors belt. Changed my life. Keeps a gun nice and tight to the body and no sag. A wonderful thing.

    A gun you can't shoot well might be better than nothing...but not by much. I do not shoot ultra light snubbies well. SHOOT BEFORE YOU BUY!!

    One more thing...have fun. Go to ranges and borrow guns. Go to your local shops and talk to them. Chat at the range. Finding the gun that fits you and your shooting proclivities is a fun process.

    Once again welcome.
  11. woad_yurt

    woad_yurt Senior Member

    Aug 23, 2007
    36° 31' 47.1742" X -87° 21' 34.0301"
    Portability, reliability & enough power to change a bad guy's mind. I carry a P3AT because I'm big on the portability issue, because it's never jammed on me and because .380 should be enough to make someone less inclined to do bad.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2009

    BUHLGARTS New Member

    Jul 28, 2009
    Hamilton, MT
    Great ideas guys, Thank you!
  13. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Sep 17, 2007
    Eastern KS
    Keep it under 3 pounds loaded or you won't carry it.

    Two pounds is better, and one+ pound is way better

  14. lawboy

    lawboy Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Find a gun you can comfortable operate. Commit the time, money and energy to become proficient it its use, concealment, deployment, maintenance. That will be the best gun for you. There is no magic in any one gun. The gun is a very small part of the solution. People say that this gun or that gun just "fits" them better than any other. Nonsense. Some may feel better than some others. I have yet to meet the person who has tried them all, or even a statistically relevant percentage of them all. This applies to any product you buy. I mean, do you really think you tried out every car or every washing machine before you made a purchasing decision? Just find something you are comfortable with, then put in the necessary investment to master it. You will become familiar with it and accustomed to it over time and through use and understanding of it. That will be the best gun for you. It is the work you put in that makes it the best, nothing else.
  15. rhenriksen

    rhenriksen New Member

    May 14, 2009
    "concealability is a big thing for me. If I can't hide it I can't carry it. A lot of guys claim that they can hide an 8 inch model 29 wearing a thong and feathered boa while doing Ty Bo on the hood of a moving car."

    Wow! Just... wow. What a visual! :eek::what:

  16. Clarence

    Clarence Member

    Apr 19, 2008
    Concealability, shootability, and stopability

    You have to be able to conceal it
    You have to be able to shoot it
    It has to be chambered for a round that will stop bad guys

    Everything after that is just a matter of opinion.
  17. badbadtz560

    badbadtz560 Member

    Jul 16, 2008
    I trust all my guns except the gsg-5 .. why? b/c I jammed it twice in 100 rounds. Is it the gun's fault? not really.. but it's def the last gun I'd grab in an emergency...

    *I grabbed the mag while shooting those two rounds.. big no-no for gsg-5's apparently
  18. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

    Feb 20, 2008
    Austin, Texas
    sadly I have seen it...not a pretty sight...
  19. RSTX

    RSTX New Member

    Jan 19, 2008
    Central Texas
    Guillermo, or anyone else in the know, what is a 5:11 reinforced instructors belt?
  20. scotthsi

    scotthsi member

    Jul 4, 2009
    Whaaa??? Kel-Tecs are notorious for having some of the longest, hardest and crappiest DAO triggers of any production gun on the market! I currently own two P3ATs a P11 and a PF9 and had a P32. I love them for what they are (cheap and reliable), but the triggers definitely are some of the hardest to master that I've ever encountered.

Share This Page