What is the ideal concealed carry pistol?

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August 16, 2017

What is the ideal concealed carry pistol?

Does it even exist?—Maybe—but the answer isn’t the same for everyone.

Most pistol instructors have personal preferences, and they tend to teach those preferences as the one and only gospel. The problem is that they seldom agree on all key points. Of course, I am no different—except that I have the unique distinction of being right.

Okay, now that we’ve settled that, what does the ideal CC pistol look like? First, it needs to be compact and lightweight enough to be worn comfortably concealed in normal street wear.

That criterion can vary depending on the local climate and season of the year. Daily temperatures that are mostly cool make a jacket or vest suitable for daily wear. Freezing weather calls for a heavy coat or parka. This allows you a variety of choices in how you conceal your sidearm, including a shoulder holster or belt carry. A belt holster can be worn inside or outside the waist band in the small of your back, kidney carry, appendix carry, strong side, weak side, etc.

This also gives you considerable latitude on how compact and lightweight your sidearm can be. If you have a fairly large build and a stout belt, you might choose a full-sized Sig P220, Ruger SR45, CZ 320 or one of the many 1911 clones by various makers.

If you have a smaller build or don’t want to lug around several pounds of guns and ammo, a number of more compact options might be right for you. Among these are the Springfield Armory XD-S; Kimber Ultra CDP II; Sig P 225 and a host of other mid-size compact sidearms. Most of these are available in .45 ACP giving you formidable stopping power. Other chamberings, such as .40 S&W and the popular 9mm Luger, serve very well, too.

In the Desert Southwest and the southernmost tier of states, including a major part of Texas, outer garments of any kind are rarely seen except for a scant, few weeks in the winter. That severely limits your options for concealed carry and also limits the size of your carry piece.

A shoulder holster is out of the question. Most belt carry options are, too—unless you wear an untucked shirt to conceal your piece. Even then, a full-sized or mid-sized compact sidearm will probably “imprint” on the thin fabric of an untucked shirt.

A pocket pistol is a viable option. This leaves you with a sub-compact carry piece, such as a Ruger LCP or LC9; a Kahr 9; Sig P238 or similar. However, you need to make sure your holster protects the magazine release, or you might find your carry piece is suddenly a single shot.

These sidearms are mostly chambered for the .380 ACP, which is a marginal defense cartridge. A few such as the Ruger LC9 are chambered for a livelier cartridge, the 9mm Luger.

However, the short (3.1-inch) barrel diminishes the LC9’s effectiveness more than it does a similarly barreled .380 ACP. so “Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer cherce.”

There’s a lot more than clothing issues to selecting your ideal concealed carry pistol, but we’ll get into that next week. In the meantime, I hope I’ve given you some things to think about until then.

Stan Skinner

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