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Posted on 06/24/2018 by FFL Dealer Network

What is the Best Gun to Carry for Self Defense?

What is the Best Gun to Carry for Self Defense?

In May of 2018, reports showed that around 15.7 million people had concealed carry permits in the U.S. That's around 6.5% of the U.S. population over 18 years of age as it was reported in 2016. That's a lot of people, and the one question asked by almost all of them when they are getting their training is, "what kind and size of gun should I carry?"

It's a great question, but the answer isn't going to come from a single source, nor is it going to be a ready-to-act answer. If an instructor tells you to go get a 9mm subcompact semi-automatic, as that's what you should carry, he/she isn't doing you a favor. The answer is very personal and has a number of variables:

  • Caliber you can control and shoot accurately.
  • Revolver or semi-automatic firearm.
  • The physical size of the handgun, with climate and normal clothing considered.
  • The weight of the firearm.
  • The grip and ergonomics and your hand size for control.

If you were about to ask your instructor, go ahead and do it, but their input should be just one source of information. You are carrying a firearm to protect yourself and your loved ones from violence, and you want to know that should you need to use it, you will be accurate and walk away from the encounter.

The best way to not buy several firearms before you know what you will like is to rent or borrow as many as you can and shoot them at the range. Often, the concealed carry instructors will allow you to shoot several different guns as part of your training. There are a few things to remember, and some contradict what you may hear or read about self-defense handguns:

The bigger the bullet, the better the knockdown - there is some truth to this, but there are smaller calibers that have higher velocities, and with modern bullet expansion, will be as or more effective than larger calibers.

The more rounds it holds, the better - studies of real-world self-defense shooting incidents show that most of them involve the shooting of only two or three rounds. Carrying a thicker gun to get higher capacity magazines is often just more annoying weight and makes the gun harder to conceal. This "more rounds are better" idea causes many shooters to rule out revolvers due to their normal 5 to 7 round cylinders.

Revolvers are more dependable - this is mostly true. With fewer moving parts, no slides and required blowback gasses to eject a spent cartridge and load another round, the revolver is less likely to malfunction when you really need it. However, they are also a bit thicker than the same caliber semi-automatics.

Practice a lot and with self-defense ammunition - there can be a major difference in cost between practice ammunition and quality reliable self-defense rounds. An example is 9mm, which you can buy for practice at under $0.19/round, while the best self-defense ammo can cost around $1.00 more per round.

Yes, practice a lot with low-cost ammo, but always shoot some of your chosen self-defense ammo as well. It will have different characteristics and recoil, as well as will often be more accurate. Actually, you want to rotate your self-defense ammo, not letting it get too old for reliability reasons.

 The good news is that you'll have a lot of fun shooting different guns and calibers while you try to come to a decision as to your carry choice. Many people actually have two, one for cooler weather and coats, and another smaller one for hot weather and t-shirts. Have fun shooting.

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