by Mark McSorley
When I teach a concealed carry class, I get many questions from people who have not selected a carry pistol about what weapon and holster I recommend. Many have something in mind, but haven’t made the final choice. We are all price conscious, but want a reliable firearm with the best capacity available. This desire for capacity leads many to a selection that will ultimately result in a gun left at home. The gun you left at home is no protection, and is a direct result of a lack of experience on the front end of the decision cycle, and a lack of funds on the tail end to make a correction. You are invested in the gun you chose. You have tactical holsters, spare mags, magazine holders, after market accessories, and a bit of personal ego in the gun that you selected. Now it’s hard to change, but if it’s uncomfortable, hard to conceal, or otherwise difficult to carry, you will tend to leave it at home or in the car.
Many of us will be fine with a wider framed gun. Lots of people carry a full size handgun every day. CCW holster selection plays a big role in this, but that is a topic for another day. My first CCW purchase was a Springfield XD compact. Not the new XDs, this was back in 2003. I bought a short barreled, short gripped handgun thinking that I had the best of all worlds in that one firearm! This delusion lasted till just after I tried carrying it. The gun was too wide. It hurt, it didn’t fit, and it was impossible to find a comfortable place to wear it. I tried several Kydex holsters, even reaching out to a custom leather holster maker trying to get around what I already knew. The gun was not at fault, it functioned flawlessly. The problem for many people is that double stack handguns tend to be too wide for comfortable carry. I could carry a 1911 model chambered in 45 ACP with no worries. It had a 5 inch barrel and a full size grip. What’s the difference? 1911’s are single stack, one cartridge above the other. This slimmer frame fit nicely inside the waistband without a complete wardrobe change.
The width of the firearm is more important than the length of barrel or grip. Within reason, of course. My recommendation today, with all the new offerings from major makers, is a single stack, subcompact, 9mm handgun that balances capacity with size. The S&W Shield or the Glock 43 are excellent examples of these products. Obviously, I’m not the only one with these thoughts, as more and more of this style hit the market each year.
Save yourself the cost and frustration, learn from my own mistakes, and select a handgun that is specifically for carry duty. Trying to make one gun do 3 roles is a way to fit none of them. Take a look at the selection of IWB holsters available here from Weber Tactical.
The gun you leave at home because it is too much trouble to carry is no defense at all.