Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of articles about choosing a gun for concealed carry. These articles all contain a list of firearms that one should consider and some of those selections are inevitably ones an inexperienced shooter really has no business considering. It’s not that they’re (usually) recommending bad guns. They’re recommending guns that only very experienced shooters should be considering.
Case in point one I constantly see recommended is the Smith and Wesson Airweight J frame revolver. The light weight metal frame translates to heavier recoil. How much heavier? Well I personally can’t tell the difference in recoil between an Airweight J frame with FBI loads and a 3″ .44 Magnum revolver. In contract the Ruger LCR comes in at nearly the same weight but the polymer frame absorbs recoil making it more comfortable to fire. The lesson here; try before you buy, don’t just take the recommendation of the gun shop counter monkey. Some will be very knowledgeable, others won’t have a clue.
With weight being somewhat less of a factor to a gun’s shootability what other factors should one consider? One of the most important is fit. There’s a lot of advice on fit, but the best I’ve found is from gunsmith and instructor Grant Cunningham who says besides making sure you can reach the trigger (even if you have to adjust your grip slightly) you should also ensure your hand contacts the grip completely. This helps you control it better.
The next issue is one of sights. Good sights ensure accurate shot placement. With standard iron sights to general rule is the longer the sight radius the more accurate the gun can be shot. The downside is the longer the sight radius the longer the gun making comfortable concealment an issue. With optical sights becoming more common on handguns iron sight radius will cease to be as big of an issue. However there are issues with shorter barrels that we will discuss later that will still matter.
The Sweet Spot
In examining my own progression of carry guns I found that all the carry guns I really liked all fit into a similar size. This is the size I find I am able to easily conceal, shoot well and has the ammunition capacity/capability to handle any threats that may come my way. My most current pistol is a Glock 19. Previous “perfect” carry guns were a Colt CCO and a S&W 65 3″ Barrel. These may not be the size of guns you prefer to carry, but it is my opinion every one has that just right size. Once you find it, you’ll be able to narrow your choices more efficiently.