Picking the Right Concealed Carry Gun

Ask any five shooters what’s the best gun for self defense, and you’ll get six different answers!

Ask any five shooters what’s the best gun for self defense, and you’ll get six different answers!

Drop into any local gun store or log into any firearms forum on the Internet and ask what the “best carry gun” is. You’ll get a raft of responses, almost all of which are based on what the responders personally like. What’s more, what they personally like may or may not be based on anything other than hearsay – or what their buddies like.

Let’s look at it a little more logically; choosing a concealed carry gun is really about reaching the right balance for you. You have to consider size, power, efficiency and capacity in your deliberations, and each variable affects the others.

Revolver or Auto for Concealed Carry?

This is an age-old debate. They each have their adherents, and they are somewhat complementary in their capabilities. There are some vital differences however, and you should go into either choice with your eyes open.

Arguments for the autoloader:
-Greater capacity
-Flatter for better concealment
-Easier to reload under stress
-Easier to shoot well (better triggers)
-Greater selection of defensive ammunition
-Generally greater tolerance to abuse

Arguments against the autoloader:
-Perceived lack of reliability
-Complicated manual of arms (operation)
-Upper body strength required to rack slide
-Generally lesser tolerance to neglect
-Can be sensitive to ammunition variances

Arguments for the revolver:
-Simpler manual of arms
-Easier to verify loaded or unloaded state
-Easier to shoot (lack of external controls)
-Perceived greater reliability
-Relatively immune to ammunition variables
-Generally greater tolerance to neglect
-Somewhat easier to fit to smaller hands

Arguments against the revolver:
-Harder to shoot well (heavy, long trigger)
-Lower capacity
-Difficult to reload quickly
-Somewhat lessened selection of defensive ammunition
-Generally lower tolerance to abuse

Having written two books on the revolver, and being known as a revolver “expert,” it may surprise you that I usually recommend an autoloading pistol for most people. Why? Because the advantages of the autoloader generally outweigh the advantages of the revolver, except for some specific instances.


This article is an excerpt from:

12 Essentials of Concealed CarryGrant Cunningham’s 12 Essentials of Concealed Carry Download (PDF)

3 thoughts on “Picking the Right Concealed Carry Gun

  1. AresMesa

    People who are not very fond of guns but want one for self defense should get a revolver, since it’s less dangerous for them. Those who understand handguns quite well and have reasonable firearms training should get a pistol.
    Verdict: The revolver is much simpler than an automatic, however, all those who arm themselves with either a revolver or a pistol must make sure that they can hit something with it.

  2. SmithKoWitz

    Must agree, revolvers are pretty simplistic and easy to maintain. However, depending on the power you want to pack and how much recoil you want to deal with, I think the semi-auto gets a plus here. I generally carry an all steel or alloy semi-auto. My two top guns are an MK40 Kahr and Sig P938SAS (a recent acquisition). I do however have two revo’s capable of cc carry, those being an S&W 632 .327/32 Mag J frame and the Ruger LCR 357/38. Both of the revolvers pack more energy than the semi-auto’s and it is noticeable unless shooting the 32HR Mag or 38Spcl rounds. Semi-autos are easier to load and unload if you are needing to lock the gun up while doing some errands. If I am out all day and not going some where that guns are not allowed, then I might pack either of the two revolvers or even my 686+ w/3″ barrel. Sometimes I carry my 4″ barrel 1911 too, but again, only carry it when not going somewhere off limits.

  3. Jarhead6541

    Up north it’s much easier to have a minimum of two ccw weapons for obvious reasons. Colder weather brings out my FNS40 with OWB holster. When warmer it’s a Taurus TCP 380 either in a pocket holster or an IWB. My preference is the .40 with 14 + 1 Speer Gold Dot hollow-points . Beautiful gun, never fails.

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