I previously posted this on FB, but thought it would be a good read for those just joining in.
Whatís a good concealed carry pistol?
Well, before I give you the answer, letís frame this a bit. At this point in your life, you likely know what size and style of clothes fit you best, as youíve been wearing and trying on clothes for many years, and have narrowed down what you like and donít like. Itís taken time, but now you likely can order from a catalog what you want, and be pretty sure it will fit when it arrives.
You interface with pistols in two main ways: the grip, which defines how well you can hold on to it, and how comfortable it feels in your hand, and the trigger, which defines how well you can shoot it without disturbing your sight picture. There is no point in having a pistol that you cannot hold onto reliably and comfortably, and that you cannot hit your target with. Everything else is secondary to those two items.
But if you are a first time pistol shooter or buyer, and you wander into your local gun shop, or sit around on the internet asking for advice, you will get a slew of opinions of what is right for you. from people that donít know you. Would you let a stranger pick out your pants for tomorrow, without knowing your size or style? Same idea.
Since pistols donít come with sizing guides (this one is for fat dudes, and this one is for skinny ladies, and this one is for people with weak handsÖ.), you need some criteria to narrow down your choices. A quick search on Google, or a trip to a reasonably stocked gun shop will reveal dozens and dozens of possible pistols, all with your name on them. But some are not for you today.
So back to how pistols interface with you: the grip. If you canít hold it well and comfortably, itís not for you. Many pistols come with different size grips, or inserts that can change the grip shape and size. And others do not. Given the large numbers of pistols to choose from, narrow down your list first by looking for a pistol that initially fits your hand, and that has different grip sizes or grip inserts so you can alter the grip size and shape.
Cool, now you have a smaller pile of pistols to choose from. Letís make this even easier, letís narrow down what caliber to look at. Stick with 9mm if you are new to guns. Your very rich and industrious federal government, thru the FBI, has spent piles of time and money recently on this very topic for their agents, who greatly vary in size and shape, and have concluded that good 9mm ammo (I use ammo that has passed their Barrier Penetration tests) is just as deadly as other calibers, but that it is easier (and cheaper) to shoot well, and that the biggest variable in shooting bad guys so they stop doing bad things is shot placement, and that is done best with 9mm. There is no such thing as ďstopping powerĒ, itís a myth, the FBI said so. If you want to redo their research, knock yourself out, Iím trying to save you some money and rely on their expertise.
Ok, now to the trigger. Thatís that little hanging down thing, that when you pull it to the rear, makes the gun go BANG!. Yeah that. Keep your finger off it until you are ready to fire. Your feet and your friends will thank you.
Generally speaking, the more force you have to exert to pull the trigger, the more wobble you will introduce to your sight picture, and the more likely you are to miss. You will find there is great variation in trigger feels and trigger pull weights. Most good pistols require between 4 to 8 pounds of force to pull them and make the gun go BANG! Itís hard to explain, but once you have tried a few at the gun shop, you will notice that different triggers feel different. Some require a long pull, some a short pull, some are smooth, and some have what feels like grit in them. At this point, itís up to personal preference what you like. But stay away from ones that have real heavy triggers, like over 10 pounds, and very few will have triggers that are under 4 pounds.
List is getting shorter of possible pistols.
Now to operate your pistol. Assuming you are going to go with a semi-automatic, they will have a slide on top, that cycles back and forth, and part of that is an internal spring. Some pistols have heavier springs than others, depending on their design. A little practice will show you how to operate any of them. So donít be scared off if your choice has what seems like a ďheavyĒ spring.
And finally, what type of action are you looking for? Generally speaking, there are 3 main types of actions: 1) striker fired, when you pull the trigger, an internal spring forces the firing pin forward against the primer, making the gun go BANG! These pistols do not have an external hammer. 2) double action/single action, when you pull the trigger, an external hammer is released by a spring, hitting the firing pin and making the gun go BANG! The gun is normally carried with the hammer down, so the first trigger pull both cocks the hammer and releases the hammer (double action), and thereafter, the slide cocks the hammer and the trigger only releases the hammer (single action). 3) single action, again, an external hammer is released by the trigger pull, hits the firing pin, and makes the gun go BANG! And the slide cocks the hammer for the next shot, these pistols are normally carried with the hammer cocked and have an external safety that must be turned off before they can be fired.
Striker fired - Glock, HK VP9, Sig Sauer P320, SW MP series
DA/SA - Beretta 92F, Beretta Px4, CZ 75, Sig Sauer 220 series
SA - Colt 1911 and clones
Iím sure there are others, but you get the idea.
For novices, Iíd avoid any pistol with an external safety that must be turned off before the gun will fire, so that would mostly reduce your list to striker fired and a few DA/SA pistols with de-cocking levers (such as a Beretta Px4 model G). You are new, you havenít been shooting and practicing for many years, so you want simple. Pull the trigger, gun goes BANG!. You donít have to remember to turn the safety off. As you get experience, you may wish to revisit this, but for now, KISS (keep it simple silly) (no one here is stupid, just new).
So, to answer the question at top: Whatís a good concealed carry pistol? One that you shoot well and that you will carry with you. The above should narrow your choices quite a bit, and further, Iíd add that you should, if possible, select a double stack pistol, that should give you a magazine of 13 to 17 rounds before having to reload. If that is not physically possible, then go with a single stack, but you will only get 6-9 rounds in your magazine.
And one more thing: some pistols require you to pull the trigger before you take them apart for cleaning (Glock and SW SD9VE are examples). If you can, put these type pistols lower on your list. There are confirmed cases of people shooting themselves because they did not empty the ammo from the pistol before doing this step.
So if you are headed to a gun shop in the near future, take this advice to heart (maybe even copy and print it out), and begin your search with the following:
ďHi, Iíd like to see what you have in 9mm striker fired pistols with double stack magazines that have multiple grip sizes.Ē
Additionally, almost all gun makers have websites with all sorts of useful information about their guns, including trigger pull weights, overall dimensions, capacities, etc, so you might go to the gun shop to see what they normally stock, head back home to do some research on a few guns, and then head back to make your final decision. Make a smart decision, not a quick but poor decision.
That will narrow things real quickly. Then find one you like, find the money to afford it (donít buy a gun just because itís cheap, youíll end up buying another one down the road to make up for the short comings of that first pistol), and learn to use it safely and effectively.
Iím sure this will generate discussion, but those are my 2 cents, hard won over the years, having shot many types of pistols.