Assuming you’re choosing a gun for concealed carry, not home defense, your options are narrowed somewhat. However, if you’re like me there still seem to be an overwhelming number of guns to choose from.
How can you possibly make a decision?!
1. Choose Your Carry Method
While it may seem illogical to start by choosing how to carry your gun, this will directly influence the gun you’ll need. Personally, I’m not a fan of off-body carry methods such as purses, briefcases, folders, etc. My philosophy is it’s too easy for an assailant to disarm you. Then, not only are you defenseless, you’ve just armed your attacker. If you do choose to carry in a purse your options for a gun will be much wider as you can have a larger frame gun. Concealment will also be much easier.
On-body carry, which is the only way I carry, offers a variety of methods include inside the waistband(IWB) at the small of your back, bra holsters, thigh holsters, underarm holsters, bellybands, outside the waistband (OWB) hip holsters, pocket holsters and ankle holsters.
Personally, I think the best options are in the small of your back (the gun is tucked into the back of your pants), thigh holster or a bra holster. As a woman, tucking a gun in your clothes without it printing can be tricky. Your body may determine your carry method. If you have back problems, don’t choose a small-of-the-back holster. If you have circulation issues in your legs, you don’t want a thigh holster.
2. What Caliber Gun is Best?
I can’t recommend carrying a .22 for self-defense, but I don’t suggest carrying a .45 ACP either as that’s not practical for me, as a woman. Personally, I carry a 9mm – it’s the perfect middle ground between a round with enough force to stop practically any threat and yet it allows me to carry a smaller frame gun. Thus, I have a very practical gun that I can easily conceal. .380’s are popular, especially among women, as they have decent stopping power, but are a smaller gun. Check out this handy guide for choosing the best caliber for self defense. Regardless of the caliber of gun you buy, remember that any gun is better than no gun.
Once you’ve decided your carry method, that helps narrow down your guns options further. If you choose to carry in the Flashbang Holster (bra holster), you’ll mostly be limited to a .22 or .380. The thigh holster (which is really only practical for concealing with skirts or baggy shorts), would allow you to carry with a small frame 9mm, .380 or a .22. The small-of-your-back carry option probably would allow you to carry with a slightly larger frame gun. However, remember that the larger the gun, the looser your shirts must fit.
3. What Makes a Gun “Good”?
The particular gun you choose needs to be one that:
- Fits your hand – if you can’t properly hold the gun and pull the trigger, you won’t be able to control it. Also, shooting a gun that is too big for your hand can cause your trigger finger to hurt from being stretched too far or the thumb joint to ache, due to the recoil hitting your hand at the wrong spot.
- You can control – if you can’t shoot the gun and have some level of control, don’t buy that gun. Keep looking. While recoil is normal and to be expected, especially among smaller frame guns, you need to be able to hit your target.
- Must be reliable – research a gun online before buying it. Read reviews. Ask your local gun shop for advice.
- Check the trigger pull – Each gun has a weight on the trigger, measured in pounds. In other words, pulling the trigger is like lifting that much weight. Most Glocks have about a 5 lb pull, while a Ruger LC9 is 7 lbs. The Ruger P90 (full size .45 ACP) is 11 lbs. Usually this info can be found on the manufacturer’s website on a specifications sheet. I would suggest a 5-7 lb pull, but try some guns out. See what is best for you.
4. Semi-Auto or a Revolver?
It’s a hot debate and everyone has their own opinion as to which is best. Those who love revolvers exclaim, “If you can’t solve the problem with six shots, you probably can’t solve the problem.” There is some merit to that, but I don’t like revolvers because they are wider than semi-autos, for the most part. Thus, they are harder for me to conceal. Revolvers are easier to clean, require less maintenance than semi-autos and almost never jam when firing.
Semi-auto lovers respond with, “No one who has ever been in a gunfight said they wished they had a smaller gun or fewer bullets.” More bullets certainly doesn’t hurt, but if you can’t hit your target it doesn’t really matter how much ammo you have. Being a good shot and carrying a gun you can handle is more important.
Semi-autos aren’t difficult to take apart and clean, especially if you watch a YouTube video that shows you step-by-step directions. Semi-autos can hold more rounds and because they are thinner than revolvers, they are often more concealable. While semi-autos can jam a bit more than revolvers, clearing a jam isn’t hard. (Note: I’ve only had a semi-auto jam a few times and that was the non-factory ammo’s fault, not the gun’s.) If you buy a good quality gun and use dependable ammo, I wouldn’t be concerned about your gun jamming.
Read more on the differences, pros and cons for semi-autos vs. revolvers here.
How I Do It
I carried a Glock 23 (.40) for over a year in Crossbreed’s SuperTuck Delux holster, which I carried in the small of my back. It’s possible, but difficult. The worst part is dressing even remotely stylishly when you’re packing a gun that big. Winter isn’t hard because you just add a jacket to your outfit, but summer concealment is overwhelmingly hard. I eventually switched to Crossbreed’s MiniTuck holster with a Ruger LC9 (the smallest single-stack 9mm on the market, I believe).
When you’re carrying in the small of your back, the hardest problem is not the length of the gun, but rather the width. A Gock 23 is 1.18 inches wide, while the Ruger LC9 is 0.75. That’s a night and day difference – I can wear pretty much any non-spandex t-shirt with my Ruger and it just disappears. Not so with my Glock – I have to wear baggy, non-clingy shirts. So keep the width and overall length of your gun in mind when shopping – it makes a bigger difference than you might think!
As you consider your options remember that whatever gun you buy, you must be happy with it. If you don’t like your gun or carry method, you’re unlikely to actually carry the gun on a daily basis. What is the point of having the ideal gun, if it’s not practical for you to carry?
Carrie Thompson is an avid 2nd amendment supporter who believes everyone should protect themselves, women included. Carrie is a regular contributor to AJGraves.com, an alternative news source for Libertarians, Tea Party Activists, Ron Paul supporters and freedom lovers. Follow Carrie on Google+.