4 Factors You Need Consider When Buying a Concealed Carry Handgun

DC police Guns gun wall red

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

By Tim Carroll

What gun should I carry for self-defense? This question has been asked more times than I can remember during my professional training career and the answer is, well…complicated.

Stopping Power

Model 19-3 muzzle front sight

Dan Z. for TTAG

First we need to look at one of the most important aspects of carrying a handgun for self-defense, the ability to stop a threat. Statistics will show that a handgun round is a poor choice for stopping an attacker. If I told you that we were going to get into a gunfight at a particular time and place, we would probably both choose rifles. A rifle is a much better option to stop a threat.

On average, it takes 3 to 4 hits with a handgun caliber round to stop the bad guy. Notice I said hits, not shots. Odds are, no matter how good you think you are, you’re going to miss somewhere between 50% and 100% of the shots you take in a stressful defensive gun use situation.

So now let’s do some math. If it takes 3 to 4 hits and I miss half my shots, that means I have to shoot 6 to 8 times just to stop 1 threat. What if there is more than one threat? You can see how ammunition capacity is very important part of stopping power when making the choice on what handgun to buy and carry.

Caliber

Personal Defense Ammunition hollow points

Courtesy Kat Ainsworth

This particular point has been argued over for decades and those arguments are going to continue for decades more. The fact, however, is this; when it comes to duty calibers, it doesn’t matter.

That’s right, from .380 ACP all the way up to .45 ACP, using good, modern defensive ammunition, the caliber doesn’t matter. It still takes about the same number of hits to stop a threat regardless of the calibers mentioned above.

Personally, I’m choosing the firearm that I can carry that has the most capacity.

External Safety

mark 23 controls

Woody for TTAG

A lot of folks are still hung up on external safeties. With a lot of new model handguns, the external safety is there for one reason. To make people feel good.

If you want an external safety, OK, but be sure to train properly when using it. During my classes, with inexperienced students, I’ve seen too many forget to take the safety off and put the safety on.

I’m not saying external safeties are a bad thing, but you need to be able to use it without thinking and all of the same firearm safety discipline still needs to be observed. You can’t use an external safety like a crutch.

The Right Fit

handgun grip

Dan Z. for TTAG

How are you going to carry your gun? Inside the waistband? Outside the waistband? In a purse? All of these decisions will affect your choice of handgun.

If you’re unfamiliar with the different types of carry, I would strongly suggest getting some in-person training to see how you feel about each one. You have to be able to deploy your firearm when you need it so being familiar and comfortable with your carry method is critical.

How does the gun fit your hand? This has to factor heavily into your choice. You cannot choose a firearm for someone else and they cannot choose one for you.

You have to see if the gun fits your hand, if you can rack the slide, how the trigger press feels. Rent a gun you’re thinking of buying if you can to see if you can handle the recoil, load its magazines, and perform proper manipulations. Most importantly, it has to be your choice.

All of these factors and more will go into choosing the right handgun for you to carry and you need to consider each one carefully. A handgun is a life-saving defensive tool so it needs to be safe and reliable. Low cost should not be the driving factor. No one goes into the parachute store and says, “Give me the cheapest one you got.”

 

Tim Carroll is head instructor at Tennessee-Carry.com.

comments

  1. avatar Geoff "Guns. LOTS of guns..." PR says:

    “4 Factors You Need Consider When Buying a Concealed Carry Handgun”

    # 5 – Do I have ammo on-hand for it?

  2. avatar Bob h says:

    BS on the 6-8 shot average to stop a threat. I’ve never seen any sources where that’s the case.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      Neither have I UNLESS they’re talking about something like NYPD shootings which are not at all indicative to a conceal carry case of self-defense.

    2. avatar Richard Steven Hack says:

      There was a study done of New York Police shootings. They determined that police officers only hit what they’re aiming at 25% of the time. Criminals only hit what they’re aiming at 11% of the time.

      There is no difference between a police officer shooting at someone and *you* shooting at someone – unless you’re significantly more highly trained at combat shooting than a police officer – which you *can* be, but most people aren’t.

      Based on that fact alone, revolvers (and low-capacity semi-autos) are simply out of the question for concealed carry. Six rounds simply is not enough capacity. In my view, ten rounds is the minimum, but one could argue for eight if the caliber is arguably higher in capability (.45 over 9mm, for instance.)

      And those alleged “studies” and FBI statistics that show most armed conflicts being resolved with only a few shots fired – under 6 – are not something one should rely on when preparing for the worst. You are carrying a firearm for an outlier event – that you will need to use it – in the first place. Why not carry one with the capacity to deal with the outlier event that you may need more than six shots? Why limit your options in a life-or-death situation?

      You have to *assume* that under stress of real combat, you *will* miss more than you hit. Why, then, place *faith* in the idea that you will definitely *not* need more than six rounds?

      Of course, you can carry a speedloader. And now you are *assuming* that you can reload and stay in the fight without losing an advantage.

      These are two many assumptions when one’s personal security is at stake.

      The proper concealed carry is: 1) one primary, high-capacity (10 rounds or more) semi-auto with a magazine capacity as high as can be properly carried concealed; 2) at least one reload magazine for the primary weapon, preferably with higher-capacity if it can be concealed; 3) a secondary firearm, preferably of the same caliber if not the same make and model as the primary firearm; and 4) at least one reload magazine for the secondary firearm, preferably of higher capacity.

      We’d all like to carry twin 7.62mm miniguns on our shoulders like War Machine – or rifles, as the author correctly notes. But since that is not feasible, the goal should be to maximize our capabilities within the limits of what is practical.

      1. avatar M says:

        A lot of folks are confident they would do better than the average NYPD officer, I am skeptical about that. You don’t know until you’re in that situation, and how well you shoot at the range or even how many classes you took doesn’t guarantee result. There is a huge mental factor to it, how you are going to control stress, tunnel vision, fear, etc. While there are cases of really bad police shootings (decision made on the use of deadly force, # of rds fired…), it’s also interesting to note “civilians” who get to participate in use of force simulation/scenarios with their local LE agency often realize how hard it can be to do the right thing (or at least not one of the worst thing possible in that particular situation), even in a safe and controlled environment.
        Now it’s certain that if the average cop does not take on his time and dime to practice, he/she won’t get really good with a gun. In most agencies they get less time at the range than many “civilian” gun owners. Same goes with defensive tactics, cops are not going to become martial art experts with the few session they get in the year.

        1. avatar Southern Cross says:

          But the police are portrayed by the media as the uber expert operators when it comes to firearms, when in reality they can miss completely even at spitting distances.

          And us mere civilians also have to take responsibility for any misses that hit something or someone else.

      2. avatar Kendahl says:

        NYC cops would do better if they weren’t saddled with semi-auto triggers as stiff as those on double action revolvers. But then, the NYPD would have to train them about trigger discipline. There is no way the mayor or city council would approve enough money for that.

        One thing we have to give the Europeans credit for is that they give their cops far more training before turning them loose on society. That’s expensive. An American municipal politician would get nowhere with a campaign platform to raise taxes enough to pay for twelve months in the police academy followed by a year of probation under a training officer and a week of continuing training every year thereafter in shooting, wrestling with resisting suspects and combat tactics. We’d all benefit because better trained cops get the job done with less collateral damage but no one would go for it.

      3. avatar Hannibal says:

        I’ll leave others to argue the NYPD point. Suffice to say that there are a lot of reasons that police shootings are not comparable to citizen shootings- range, situation (barriers) and mentality among them- but the NYPD may be the worst thanks to their training and triggers.

        You have rejected some of the only non-anecdotal evidence we have of what civilian defensive shootings consist of. You’re talking about outlier events- how much of an outlier do you need to prepare for? Are you wearing a kevlar vest in case someone just shoots you in the back? How about a helmet? Not for a gunfight but just in case something falls on your head. After all, we have many documented incidents where someone was walking down the street and died due to something being dropped on their head.

        Is there ONE documented incident of a civilian in the US who was armed with a pistol conceal defending themselves who died because because they ran out of ammo against an assailant? Not a drug dealer in a driveby, not someone in Brazil (that place is weird) , not a home invasion- just someone conceal carrying and failing to defend themselves because they didn’t have enough ammo.

        In December of 2019 Erica Tishman was walking down the street and was killed when a brick fell off a building under construction and hit her in the head, killing her. I’ve got plenty other examples.

        Where are the examples of John Smith dying because of an empty revolver?

        1. avatar Manse Jolly says:

          “Where are the examples of John Smith dying because of an empty revolver?…”

          There are none. Just as there are no examples of a DGU reloading, other than cops engaged in their job.
          Yet people insist that one must carry a spare magazine in case of the “gun fight”, failing that reason, the often stated possible malfunction will be brought up. To that I say buy a better gun and magazines, don’t abuse them.

          I do carry spare magazines/gun in vehicles I own, just not on my belt.

      4. avatar DarthMonkey says:

        You just sited NY Police stats to defend a point saying the average civilian is worse? NYPD handguns are required to have 12lb triggers. They don’t teach a two handed grip or weaver stance to any level of proficency, and their other training is minimal. They are only required to shoot once a year to qualify. Let me just leave you with this quote from another article.

        ““I mean, for God’s sake, we have police officers right now in New York City who don’t even know how to take their gun out of their holster properly or put it back in their holster correctly — after they’ve been trained,” said Steve Minguez, a former firearms trainer who retired in 2012 after 27 years with the NYPD.”

  3. avatar Manse Jolly says:

    Ok..This ‘stopping power’ saying is annoying.

    I wish people would stop writing it.

    1. avatar LifeSavor says:

      Agree. The ability to get shots on target, repeatedly, is what counts…at least that is what I have read. Never had to fire in self defense…thankfully.

    2. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

      Agree… in this case it at least saved me from wasting time reading the rest, so props for putting it first I guess.

  4. avatar Jimmy Beam says:

    “On average, it takes 3 to 4 hits with a handgun caliber round to stop the bad guy.”

    This is such bunk. Ever read the self-defense stories in The Rifleman magazine? The threats described in those situations are stopped overwhelmingly with one shot. I have very rarely seen a news story or self-defense description for civilians that takes more than 1 or 2 shots. In many cases, all it takes is brandishing the firearm. In the case of “multiple attackers,” especially in home invasions, the other perps bolt when the first scumbag is shot.

    We don’t live in Iraq. If you’re a cop taking down crackhouses, then, yeah, use a high capacity firearm. If it takes you 6-8 shots to stop a threat, then you’re not a good enough shot. If you want to own a high capacity firearm (and I own several), don’t use bunk statistics to justify your choice; you’re playing the game of the gun-grabbers.

    1. avatar Chris Mallory says:

      If cops are going to be allowed to be armed while working for the government, they have proven they are not responsible enough for the privilege, then they should be limited to 5 shot 38 Special revolvers.

      1. avatar Manse Jolly says:

        I bet their accuracy would go up with revolvers.

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          I think its the same percentage these days as back in the day.

          Now in the first days of mass auto adoption, there were great stories of epic missing of perps and perforating bystanders.

        2. avatar Dave G. says:

          Manse Jolly:
          “I bet their accuracy would go up with revolvers.”

          Plus 1.

      2. avatar Jimmy Beam says:

        Not to disparage any cops participating in the comments section, but the cops I’ve seen at the range are, for the most part, poor shots. They use the capacity of their chosen firearm to make up for poor shot placement. In other words, it’s “spray and pray.” Most of us in this forum, in all likelihood, get more quality range time than the average cop. That being said, the cop (a retired sheriff’s deputy) that taught me how to shoot was exceptional, a real marksman.

        I once saw a video of a Santa Monica cop being charged by a deranged homeless person. He emptied the magazine of the 9mm he was using, at a distance of less than 15 yards. The cop stumbled backwards while doing so, and almost all of his shots missed. To me, this isn’t an argument for more rounds, but better confidence and more training.

        1. avatar Hannibal says:

          It’s very dependent on region and department. Urban cops often have never fired a handgun before training. Which can be great because they haven’t picked up bad habits, but those same departments often have very little on-going training.

          Makes sense in some ways. Most cops never shoot someone. So every hour you spend on the range with them is an hour you can’t have them doing “community outreach and minority equality” training that you hope you can talk about if you get sued.

        2. avatar M says:

          Because they train for quick follow up shots, quick mag changes, etc. Everything is fast, fast, fast in most of their training sessions (all 2 or 3 of them most cops get annually). They definitely don’t get a private session with J.Miculek or some tactical guru. Also, many cops are too messed up by their schedule after years in service to get the motivation to go to the range on their own time every month, stress + working shitty 12hrs shift tends to drag you down when it comes to energy and motivation.

        3. avatar Anymouse says:

          Some cops are PoTG, and they’re as good or better shot than competitive shooters. On the other hand, there are officers that think of guns as just another piece of gear they have to carry, and they’re no more interested in it than their radio. They’ll fire once or twice a year, depending on their department’s qualification schedule.

      3. avatar M says:

        Or they should have the option to not receive a firearm at all and tell you to go pound sand when you call 911. What difference does a 5 shot revolver chambered in .38sp will make anyway? A .38sp round won’t hurt you if they miss the bad guy? How about a nerf gun instead, have you thought about that?

      4. avatar Police God Manse Jolly of Total Soviet Communist Thought Police says:

        If civilians continue to use guns to commit crimes then they should be restricted to 5 shot .38 revolvers.

    2. avatar Johnny Walker says:

      If it takes you any shots, then you’re not a good enough boxer or fast enough runner. See how that works? I literally have no idea what over all point your trying to make. You’ve said a lot and conveyed little.

      1. avatar Kendahl says:

        Can’t box good enough or run fast enough? Tell that to an old geezer who needs a walker to get around. That doesn’t necessarily stop him from shooting straight.

        1. avatar Dave G. says:

          Kendahl:
          Can’t box good enough or run fast enough? Tell that to an old geezer who needs a walker to get around. That doesn’t necessarily stop him from shooting straight.

          You beat me too it! And, thank you!

          I’m an old geezer. Even though I don’t need a walker (most of the time), I “…can’t box good enough or run fast enough.” I guess I’ll just have to shoot good enough.

    3. avatar Kendahl says:

      Most one-shot stops are psychological. The bad guy decides, consciously or unconsciously, that he doesn’t want to be shot anymore. For a real one-shot stop, you need to consider the bullet sponge who keeps on coming until he takes one in the central nervous system or a critical part of his bone structure or he bleeds out and loses consciousness. In the last case, that might not happen until after he has killed you.

    4. avatar M says:

      That’s cute until you get that guy, could be excited delirium or something similar, they don’t feel pain, they don’t react rationally, and if you go with non lethal weapon you’ll have to press the trigger on that tazer until the dude goes into cardiac arrest anyway. It’s also less and less rare to see gangbangers and other shitheads with body armor. Another situation, the suspect is a veteran with PTSD, good chances he won’t give up the fight until someone is dead or incapacitated in any way if the light went off in his head and he thinks he is back overseas fighting the enemy. Yeah MOST situation are over once you draw the gun or shoot 1 or 2 rds, but a lot of them aren’t and it’s better to be ready, especially if your job involves dealing with nutjobs, junkies, felons, and desperate people.

    5. avatar J Star says:

      Ever watch any DGU videos on You Tube? I’m going to guess no, as you’d know that the NRA stories are not the only stories. Plenty, and I mean PLENTY of DGUs with multiple gunshots. Just look up the Active Self Protection channel for years worth of examples. Yup, some of them are only one or two shots. Some of them are multiple shots. Some of them are slide lock on empty magazine – emergency reload. Some of them are “Oh shit my firearms skills weren’t as badass as I thought and now I am dead”, unfortunately.

  5. avatar RGP says:

    Thinking when cops packed revolvers, mostly chambered in .357, most gunfights involved a total of less than 3 shots.

    My own experience with a greatly irritated cow and a .45 Colt required one shot, but that was real .45 Colt ammunition and not watered down garbage.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      You’re not wrong but you don’t want to be the guy who was in the shooting that didn’t fall into “most” and died because of it. We have numerous concrete examples where cops died while trying to reload revolvers because the suspect walked up and executed them (Miami, Newhall, et)

      Yet I have yet to find examples where a conceal carrier was in the same situation in the US. Caveat: talking about conceal carry, not home defense. There are definitely examples where people defending their home had to reload.

  6. avatar MikeJH121 says:

    Not “caliber” not “number of hits” but “SHOT PLACEMENT”. Hit them with a .22 in the eye. Anything in an artery. Or a lucky pelvic bone shot on a rushing attacker. Other then all that. Keep shooting until they stop. .22, .380 .45…..once you have to pull the trigger, just point and shoot until the bad guy goes down. 1,2 or 10. Stop the threat.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      Both caliber and number of hits matter unless you’re such an expert that you can hit the brain or spine of a moving target. Most people aren’t.

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        One of my longtime friends died some years ago from a single .22LR to the head. OTOH, I read a commentary written by a surgeon who operated on a patient who had been shot six times in the torso by 5.56 bullets, but survived because they all missed the vitals.

        Shot placement is first. Caliber is second.

        1. avatar Hannibal says:

          sure, shot placement. But shit happens. Especially under stress. I bet the guy who hit someone 6 times in the chest with a rifle thought it was some good shooting. And by most standards it is. But it’s very easy to be off just a bit. And bullets do weird things when they hit stuff. The luck factor is real.

          Stacy Lim was ambushed and shot in the heart but managed to win the subsequent gunfight.

          In the question of shot placement and caliber I’ll take both.

    2. avatar Richard Steven Hack says:

      I read in a police textbook of one perp who was shot *33 times* with 9mm – and still ran a hundred yards before collapsing.

      Almost no one outside of professional handgun trainers are capable of hitting someone in the eye *under stress* of actual combat.

      You should train for maximum ability in shot placement – but you *cannot rely* on shot placement under stress.

      I’m amazed at how many concealed carriers think they will be Rambo under combat stress. My guess is most of these people have never been fired at in combat.

      1. avatar M says:

        I think it’s a natural human reaction to overestimate or underestimate yourself, depending on the situation, personality, experience, skills, your audience…

      2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        Richard, I *read* *both* of your *comments*. *It* was *difficult* as I had to *keep* *wiping* *tears* from my *eyes* while I *laughed.* *You* *read* a *police* *handbook.* *You* *speak* of the *stress* of *being* *under* *fire.* *Enlighten* *us.* *What* is *your* *claim* to *fame?*

        1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          that’s alot of ask the rich’s.

    3. avatar Ron says:

      The caliber argument in the argument is extremely ignorant.

      “.380 = .45”.

      I’m willing to bet the writer of this article probably hasn’t ever shot either caliber at anything other then paper.

      A problem I’ve noticed about gun blogs lately: the writers and commenters actually have very little experience in actually shooting things.

      Here’s a suggestion to anyone out there who who thinks caliber doesn’t matter, or thinks “.380 = .45”:

      Go out to an actual range, with some shit. Doesn’t matter what it is. Dead animal carcass. Old TV. Old washing machine. Your ex wife’s phone. Whatever.

      And ACTUALLY SHOOT things with different calibers and look at the results.

      .380 does not in any universe equal .45.

      Allow me to clear this up even more:

      A hot loaded .22 with the right bullet is basically the same as a .25 ACP. A hot loaded .25, with the right bullet, is basically a .32. A .32, hot loaded with basically a .380. A hot loaded .380 is pretty much a 9mm. A hot 9 is easily the same as a .40. A hot loaded .40 is basically a .45. A hot loaded .45 is pretty much a .44 mag. A hot loaded .44 mag is pretty much a 500 S&W.

      So there you go. Since pistol calibers don’t matter:

      A hot loaded .22 with the right bullet is pretty much a .500 S&W.

      1. avatar Ron says:

        Edit: Should read: “Caliber argument in the article”.

  7. avatar strych9 says:

    I have no idea how many shots a DGU takes or how a DGU statistically compares to police interactions. And, really, I don’t much care. Carry whatever you’d like. If you make it home, good. If not, oh well. If you died for lack of ammo or just bad luck or from being stupid, well there’s no respawn in IRL so I hope you had your final affairs in order.

    I will point out however that Clint over at Thunder Ranch has a video on this where he quotes sources from the NYPD records on the topic. Cops tend to fire the weapon until it’s empty in a real gunfight. Doesn’t matter if it’s a 5 shot or a 17 rounder. When cops carried revolvers they cylinder dumped. When they upgrade to semi-autos they mag dumped. Then the NYPD *mysteriously* quit keeping records on the subject.

    I’m not saying it’s true because I haven’t personally bothered to look it up but Clint doesn’t seem to be the type to quote sources that don’t exist or lie about what those sources say.

    1. avatar Darkman says:

      I’ve watched hundreds of officer(s) involved shooting on video. A great many of them show the officer(s) firing until their handgun is empty. That’s why there are so many stories of multiple rounds ( up to 70 in 1 incident) being fired. After action reports show in many cases. The officer had no real idea how many shot He/She fired. Tunnel vision and adrenaline in a high stress situation. Often skews a person sense of time and reality. It has little to do with training. As even serious training is a far cry from being involved in a DGU situation. Unless you’ve been shot at and had to return fire. How you’ll react is yet to be determined. Keep Your Powder Dry.

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        Been shot at, slashed at and stabbed at. None of it is really all that fun.

        Personally, I think the entire conversation is stupid and most of the people involved in it are as well. How many shots does a DGU take is like that old owl commercial that asks “How many licks to the center of a Tootsie-Roll Pop?”.

        The answer is it depends on the specific circumstances. Talking averages is, almost by definition, stupid because to get an average you have some of the incidents being above the average number and some are below. If you knew in advance which *one* you were going to have you’d have that number of rounds on you but you don’t actually know that so you carry whatever your comfortable with and hope all goes well because that’s all you can actually do.

        “How many rounds does a DGU take?”

        “Between 0 and however much ammo you have on hand”.

        1. avatar M says:

          You nailed it, an average for “how many rds does it take” is meaningless. In this case, it’s statistics and that’s about it, not very helpful in any way.

        2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          an owl’s beak is analagous to the .44mag. either way, the answer is still two.

  8. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Well, it takes as many hits as it does to to stop a bad guy. Nod to the rifle. Caliber doesn’t matter? Yes, it does. Especially with handguns. Bigger, deeper holes! Can’t learn to use an external safety? Did you learn to use the the brake pedal in a car? I’ve taught hundreds in CCW classes to use an external safety. Maybe you just had dunces.

    1. avatar M says:

      I have no problems with or without safety and i am not some kind of expert or specops semi god. You just need to get used to what you have, if you train and think properly disabling the external safety becomes part of the drawing motion.

  9. avatar Specialist38 says:

    So….380 = 9mm = 40 = 45. Got it.

    Must be of the “penetration to 12-18 inches” is all that is needed to be sufficient.

    Now the 22 magnum (some loadings) is known to “meet” the FBI protocol for clothing and gel.

    So…22 mag = the best. 😳

    Not knocking calibers…but to say they are all equal ….is silly.

  10. avatar Hannibal says:

    Yeah the caliber remark is very poorly phrased.

    The most important thing is to have a gun. While we don’t have solid statistics for a number of reasons, most successful defensive gun uses probably don’t even involve a shot being fired. In this case, a .380 is as good as a .45

    The second most important thing is to be able to hit what you’re aiming at. If you can hit someone in the breadbox with a .380 but not a 9mm, cool, carry the .380

    But the idea that a .380acp is “just as good” as a larger and more powerful round is erroneous and comes from a place of either ignorance or false hope (the .380acp carrier that wants to believe). All other things being equal you are going to want something more powerful rather than less. Better width, expansion and penetration matter when the main mechanism for stopping people is creating holes in them that cause enough blood to escape the vascular system to cause shock (or shoot through bones to hit the spine\brain).

    1. avatar RGP says:

      Given that most people never kill anything with their gun, the smaller and smaller progression is something they can somehow mentally justify. Combine that with idiots who tell them that anything bigger kicks too much…. meanwhile… a LOT of people are doomed to to learning the hard way rather than by paying attention to their elders.

      Anybody who has had to kill anything will usually start paying attention to Elmer Keith and pick something bigger.

      1. avatar M says:

        Full size .45 pistols are imo, very pleasant to shoot, it’s a different type of recoil and I get better with follow up shots than with some other calibers. My Sig P938 (subcompact 9mm) kicks more than any full size .45 or .40 I have shot. A lot of folks somehow forget that size and weight also make a huge difference when it comes to recoil. I also didn’t feel the difference between a Glock 17 and a Glock 22, I didn’t shoot them both on the same day so maybe I would have felt more recoil with the 22 if I did that but I doubt it’s really as noticeable as many want to believe.

        1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          my 938 kicks like a pair of palegics.
          “kick” starts with .44mag and goes up from there. .357 ain’t in it.

        2. avatar 9x39 says:

          Inertia, & moment of inertia is real. Most tend to forget. Problem is, most high mass firearms are not so great for concealed carry, but have a positive effect on both of the aforementioned.

  11. avatar CentralVirginian says:

    Have a back up gun, if you ever use your firearm, you will definitely lose it for an extended period of time.

  12. avatar Scooter says:

    I personally know one self-defender who fired 11 and hit with 7, so that sounds about right. I like redefining stopping power as shots on target. As far as how many shots it takes to stop a threat, it takes as many as it takes for the threat to stop. I was taught by LEO trainers to open with 2 because you will likely throw away the first shot under stress. Your brain says “Draw, aim, fire!” but in all reality you will likely draw, fire, and aim EVEN IF YOU HAVE TRAINED PROPERLY, so follow up shots are recommended. Threat still a threat? Shoot more. Apply pews as needed. I teach my Psych students situational awareness and the OODA loop. Personally, when I shoot to train on silhouettes, I go for the Mozambique.

  13. avatar former water walker says:

    Meh…I carry a lowly Taurus 709 in a Nemesis. One chambered with the safety on. I was already old when I got into this. Yeah I practice. And throw an extra magazine in my pocket. Whatever…

  14. avatar Elvis Montalban says:

    Pointless, rambling fuddlore.

  15. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Elvis, if you don’t actually have something to contribute; why don’t you just shut up?

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      (shhh… somebody said the “f” word… shut the fudd up).
      i remember commenting outloud at a sheri’s berries commercial for chocolate dipped strawberries around valentimes day (letterkenny, s6, e7). i offered that the hand that reaches out to pick the berry was probably a midget’s hand as to create the illusion of plump juicy fruit. the fireman (ret.) nearby stood up and screamed, “i can’t help it, i’ve got little hands!”
      firehouse razzin’ can take its toll.

      1. avatar Geoff "Guns. LOTS of guns..." PR says:

        Have you been hanging out with our Possum, and partaking of his homegrown? 😉

    2. avatar Elvis Montalban says:

      Want me to go away? Give you all a little safe space to talk about stopping power and those rascally liberals?

  16. avatar GS650G says:

    So a full auto gun with a 50 round drum magazine should get the job done.

    1. avatar DinWA says:

      Just as good as my daughter’s pink Crickett with a single round of .22LR snakeshot!

  17. avatar Bitter says:

    I gotta wonder how anyone ever survived before semi auto firearms were invented?
    I say carry what you will actually have on you and shoot it often.

  18. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Bitter, the thing is it wasn’t all that long after revolvers were invented before semi-auto pistols were invented. 9mm has been around since 1908. It’s just that some morons think they’re new.

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      depends what you consider what. either approx. 80yrs or closer to three hundred if you count revolving matchlock. minimum one lifetime.
      you were just schooled on this very recently.

  19. avatar Kendahl says:

    Shot placement and penetration matter most. Use what you can shoot accurately at moderate speed and that you can carry without creating social problems for yourself. Greg Ellifritz writes about an old man named Henry who lives on a mountain in Tennessee (https://www.activeresponsetraining.net/?s=henry+tennessee). Henry carries one or two J-frame revolvers. Anybody who messes with him will get a face full of .22s.

  20. avatar SoCalJack says:

    The 5th image with the dangling pinky finger reminds me of how I learned I shoot much better with pinky support. The full length grip prints more but is easily mitigated with the right clothes and holster. All my subcompacts have mag extensions. But out of habit, every mag change on full sized guns, I instinctively lift that pinky to avoid pinching it.

  21. avatar possum says:

    A .9 mm conceals extremely well, and with advanced powders and bullet technology can even probably maybe kill a little bitty black kitty cat that won’t quit shitting on the floor. “Get away from me you little purring black bastard, we”re not friends.”,,, I bet a roll of toilet paper and the neighbors would never know. “Here kitty kitty>” ,, !!oh my !! I’m like a cop, mixed signals, go away , come here? Don’t matter, .

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      possum get a little cat before she eats your tender vittles.

    2. avatar Dave G. says:

      possum:
      “A .9 mm conceals extremely well…”

      I think (hope) you’ve got a typo there. If it were really a .9mm (point nine millimeter) it would conceal really well at about half an inch in length.

      1. avatar DinWA says:

        Not a typo!
        .9mm is the virus-hunting round.

  22. avatar Ross says:

    There’s really only two factors to consider when purchasing a handgun:

    1, is it a Glock?
    2, is it the model 19?

    1. avatar Dude says:

      You forgot 3: what will be your first aftermarket upgrade? 😉

      1. avatar Ross says:

        Sights
        Grip Stippling
        Agency trigger
        Agency barrel
        Agency back plate
        Aftermarket slide
        Red dot, slide milling, suppress height sights … and the list goes on

  23. avatar Ron says:

    “That’s right, from .380 ACP all the way up to .45 ACP, using good, modern defensive ammunition, the caliber doesn’t matter. It still takes about the same number of hits to stop a threat regardless of the calibers mentioned above.

    Personally, I’m choosing the firearm that I can carry that has the most capacity.“

    So we’re in agreement then. 7.62x25mm has won the caliber war. Far superior to 9mm in every way including capacity. Thanks for playing.

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      7.62 was mentioned at the top meaning .30cal rifle.
      i’m with you on the tok.

      1. avatar 9x39 says:

        Makes 3 of us. Love Tok/Mauser, but for the lack of guns that chamber it that aren’t veritable antiques, or conversions, it’s increasingly hard to come by. Haven’t seen a CZ-52 that wasn’t on an auction site for years.

        Have the parts to do an SA Sterling Mk IV , that I plan on converting along the way, but finding an appropriate barrel blank is hit or miss. Mostly miss. Appears I’m going to have to have a smith custom make one from scratch. $$$ I don’t have at the moment, so the project is on indefinite hold for the foreseeable future.

        1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          oooh, advanced primer ignition. saw a few of those in the himalayan foothills.

        2. avatar 9x39 says:

          @tsbhoa.p.jr

          Right you are good sir. It’s taken a back seat to finishing my Vepr 12, and acquiring an FNX45 tactical for a Rowland conversion. Assuming I still have my rights in a few months, that is. Law-fare is a bit on the pricey side.

  24. avatar Kap says:

    Being a has been use to was Wanta bee and Veteran of the SE Asia war games, weight of a firearm becomes a problem when motivating, however being a little beaucoup Dinky Dow, I find that a .32 extended Magazine Keltec fits the folds of belly fat and fits my motorcycle jacket really well. being old, fat, & slow I’m not getting away soon, actually the pistol is a visual come on so they get within Kukri range!

  25. avatar Gideon Rockwell says:

    In my career I retired from we were trained in the martial arts part of our training to consider a ten foot circle our personal space. The bulk of our defensive training was based on this ten foot circle. This is about average when most confrontations take place at three feet, last three seconds and require a minimum of three shots to resolve the situation. I have seen a person die from one shot just under the sternum from a 22 short hollow point and I have seen people who took numerous hits with a nine Millimeter and stay up fighting. The main thing is pick a firearm you are comfortable with and practice, practice and repractice until you are capable of hitting your target everytime at 3 feet, five yards and 15 yards. Also step off the area you spend the greatest amount of time in for distances you might face a confrontation in. Like if you have a front door entry hall how long is it, the distance from your side of the bed to the bedroom door, and such other areas in the house. Practice at those distances until you can hit the target in the center of mass everytime. The main thing in surviving a fight is shot placement. A person with a Ruger standard model 22 that practices with it is more apt to survive a fight than a man with a 1911 45 that doesn’t practice.

  26. avatar Birda40 says:

    Knew a guy back in the 80″s , jerk actually always bullying and fighting people. This sad sack of shit was shot 3 times in the chest and survived the 44 magnum , we all thought he was a goner, all the booze and coke he was on must have saved him. At the time if remember correctly he was beating his wife, which of course her brother didn’t care for and took action.

  27. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    I would actually reverse the order of the four things.

    The fit of a handgun will affect how well you shoot it, how much you want to practice with it, and how well you can draw from concealment. Itty-bitty, super-light revolvers often fit people’s hands poorly, they recoil sharply, and are generally unpleasant to shoot. Little wonder that most people shoot poorly with them.

    Then I would leave “stopping power” off the list. This has been around for decades, and now with a huge body of data, we see that, well, pretty much all handguns are poor at “stopping” people “right there.” As the author points out, rifles are much better.

    With that in mind, I would favor a handgun that fits someone’s hand, is pleasant for them to shoot, and (relatively) inexpensive for them to shoot, so they can afford to shoot it plenty enough to become good with it. That will matter more than the cartridge it uses.

  28. avatar Tacoma236 says:

    Ok…lets try this…90% of the time the brandishing of a firearm stops the attack.
    (Targeting Guns, Gary Kleck, Aldine de Gruyter, 1997, from the National Self-Defense Survey )

    Now for selection of a gun for a beginner.
    1. Go somewhere you can use a variety of weapons in a variety of calibers. Find the weapon and caliber you feel best about. I HATE when some blithering twit forces his wife to carry a .45 ACP because “One shot will knock em down”.
    2. Make sure the gun you get you want to practice with, regularly. Please don’t be the the 1/50 and closet. “Buy it one time, shoot 50 rounds, and put it away in the closet. ”
    This is a tool for your protection. I have a brother…he is an attorney so he knows every thing. We go to the gun range every now and then we I am in his area. He shoots with the old gun in palm “TV” style shooting…its more of a spray and pray.
    3. Get training, often you can get good shooting training for an additional $150 to $200 bucks.
    4. Learn to feel confident with the weapon you carry or have.
    As I tried to explain to my neighbor (think Bernie sticker on car) who bought a Glock 19 at a pawn shop …..$600 + basic weapon…NO kidding. And he got a box of 50 rounds….He was going to learn to shoot by watching Youtube videos.

    This is like getting a car. You go out, you buy the car ( maybe test drive it) then drive it home and park it in the garage for a few years and decide to drive it.

    Learn to shoot and be comfortable shooting the weapon. Get a box of Snap caps so you can practice trigger squeeze. Learn to shoot accurately from a quick draw…I often have people I teach learn to pull the weapon and point and shoot at 5 to 7 yards and hit center of mass. I try to explain, in combat shoots you rarely have a chance to “Alvin York” your target…Often you have between 1 and 3 seconds if you are lucky.

    When I teach someone to shoot…I start with .22 cal single action western style revolver, under the theory they can only “accidentally shoot me once” (LOL). And I work up to .45 acp so they know how it feels. They usually shoot 7 to 9 different weapons about 10 to 15 shots per weapon.
    My Wife (who um yes I met at a gun range) had been sold two pistols and she had never shot a pistol in her life when we met. She shoots a VP9SK quite accurately. Regardless she gets to the range maybe every month or so.

    One of my friends “a 80lb” female shoots a 22 mag revolver. But she can put 6 shots in a circle the size of a quarter at 10 meters. That’s on a draw and shoot. So I think she is ok.

    I have another friend who is a 90lb girl who loves the 41 mag bulldog.

    So the moral…it doesn’t matter what you carry or have just so that you are comfortable with it, practice with it and are willing to carry and use it.

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