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Posted By FFL Dealer Network on 04/04/2020 in Concealed Carry

Firearm Selection for Concealed Carry Handgun Types and Caliber

Firearm Selection for Concealed Carry Handgun Types and Caliber

There are as many opinions as there are guns as to the best handgun type and caliber for use in self-defense.  Many, or probably most, are valid, but only if they are interpreted from a personal perspective.  In other words, if you want to carry and use a handgun for self-defense, you should learn and adopt the type and caliber that will result in your ability to employ it with accuracy in a self-defense situation.

Revolver or Semi-Auto, Single or Double-Action?

When considering revolvers versus semi-auto firearms, the most common argument for the revolver is its reliability.  Jamming and misfires are far less frequent with revolvers, which should undoubtedly be a consideration.  They're far less likely to malfunction due to dirt that may accumulate over time, as many people don't clean their firearm as often as they should.  There are more moving parts in a semi-auto weapon, so you can expect they can be more prone to malfunction, especially if they're not properly cleaned and lubricated regularly.

Assuming you plan on proper care of your self-defense handgun, then the next consideration could be safety (or maybe the lack of a safety).  The safety issue also involves single-action and double-action considerations.  The difference between SA (single-action) and DA (double-action) handguns is in what happens when you pull the trigger.

The SA firearm trigger only drops the hammer to fire the round, meaning the user must cock the gun before it can be fired.  Some people prefer this as a safety feature, but there have been instances where the gun has had the hammer accidentally partially cocked in handling and accidental discharge.  There is also some delay in firing unless the user has had plenty of practice in manually cocking the firearm in drawing it for self-defense.

When pulled, the DA (double-action) handgun trigger both cocks and fires the weapon.  Some DA semi-auto handguns have manual safeties, either a lever or button to push.  Almost no revolvers have any user-operable safeties other than some having a half-cock position that won't allow the gun to fire if dropped or the trigger is pulled in the half-cocked position.

Then there's the 1911 style semi-auto (also called the Government or Government Colt) that has a lever safety and operates as a single-action firearm.  Many who carry this firearm do so in the "cocked and locked" state, meaning it's fully cocked, and the safety locks the hammer back until released.  When DA firearms are without a safety, popular with concealed carriers who want to just pull and shoot, their trigger pulls are usually very long.  A long trigger pull means that distance the trigger must be pulled to the rear is longer to help assure that the user intends to fire the gun.  Also, these pulls usually require more force or pressure.  The SA gun can have a very light pull, maybe 3 or so pounds, while many DA guns need nine or more pounds of pressure to fire the weapon.

The last, and not the least, of your considerations as to revolver or semi-auto is in the size and how you intend to carry the firearm.  The term "concealed carry" is essential.  Even when "open carry" of a firearm visibly is legal, it often isn't prudent, as too many people are afraid of firearms and their first instinct when seeing one worn by someone without a uniform is to grab their cellphone and call the police.  It's a hassle you should probably avoid.

With concealment important, size becomes your first criteria.  Though there are small revolvers, generally, you'll find far more semi-auto firearms that are easier to conceal and even carry in a pocket if you want.  Even if a revolver is short in length, they are almost always wider due to the cylinder design.  If you want to carry one inside your trouser waistline, it is more of a bulge due to the thick cylinder.

Now that you have so many different things to think about, it's good to know that many people choose to carry one type of firearm sometimes, and at other times another type.  It can be a seasonal decision due to the change in clothing.  Wearing a holster on the belt in the winter can be fine for concealment when you're wearing over-shirts or a jacket.  In the summer, you may need to switch to something you can conceal in a pocket or inside the waistband with a light shirt or even a t-shirt.  The one drawback of carrying different types is that you must be practiced in drawing and using both.  A seasonal change should be coupled with a trip to the range.

Caliber Selection for Accurate Shot Placement

You can hear some really spirited arguments among avid shooters as to the best caliber to carry for self-defense.  You have the .45 lovers who will give you statistics as to the "knockdown" power of the .45 round.  Some will even say that their concern for recoil and second shot accuracy is lessened by how confident they are that the first shot will stop the attacker.

Then there are shooters who swear by the .40 S&W for its power and higher velocity than the .45.  Still, others say that they want lower recoil but decent power, so they opt for the world's most popular caliber, the 9mm.  Many arguments for caliber come from long-standing opinions that no longer apply due to today's more advanced ammunition designs and manufacture practices.  An excellent example of how time changes things is the FBI.

Back in 1986 in Miami, the FBI lost two agents in a shootout and blamed it on the ineffective 9mm round due to it not penetrating far enough into the target individual.  Subsequently, they switched to the .40 S&W for agent carry.  Now they have switched back to the 9mm, citing the improved design of 9mm ammunition available today.  Although not making a big deal of it, they also must have considered the better accuracy with the lower recoil 9mm rounds.

Shot placement is critical, as you can't stop an attacker if you miss them, or if you hit them in non-vital areas.  It's essential to get that first shot on target center-mass, but second shot accuracy is also important.  Often one hit, even center-mass, isn't enough.  So, how accurate you can be with a fast second shot can make the difference between life and death.  The heavier recoil of larger calibers can result in very poor second shot accuracy.

Newer bullet designs and higher pressure rounds in modern handguns give the concealed carrier more choices than ever for caliber.  More choices are helpful for moving down in size to make pocket carry a valid choice.  Many shooters have found that today's .380 self-defense rounds have changed the game.  In the past, the .380 ACP was not considered to be powerful enough for confidence in its stopping power.  There are now rounds providing consistent penetration of 12 inches or more with acceptable hollow point expansion.

All of this information is just an introduction, and your choice for a handgun to carry should be finalized only after you've familiarized yourself with each type and caliber, and even borrowed or rented them to do some target practice and to see how they would fit into your desired method of carry.

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