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Scott Polk [via] writes:

Concealed carry is a hot topic among gun people. Mimimim acceptable caliber, recommended gun size and model, best holster type, appropriate self-defense tactics, the need for a back-up gun or spare magazines – it’s all up for discussion. A new shooter can find this debate – and the resulting advice – confusing. In fact, there are a lot of concealed carry myths that are repeated endlessly by the firearms fraternity. They need calling out; these ideas put people’s lives risk. Here are my top six call-outs in no particular order . . .

1 – You Can’t Carry A Full Size Gun

Many “experts” will say you can’t concealed carry a full-size firearm. It’s just too heavy and cumbersome. You’ll eventually give up and end-up carrying nothing. You need to carry a compact or pocket pistol! The truth is you can carry whatever size gun you are comfortable carrying that you can conceal effectively. That might be a full size 1911 or a pocket 380.

Your choice depends on a number of variables, including your hand size, your preferred gun type (revolver or semi-automatic) and caliber, the kind of holster you use, your job, your wardrobe and the weather. All of these factors can change depending on the day and the season. Which means you might want a range of concealed carry firearms.

[I have three carry guns. In the summer, I carry a 380 Ruger LCP in my pocket with a remora holster. In fall and spring I move to a Sig P938 in 9mm in an Alien Gear IWB Cloak Tuck 2. In winter I carry my beloved HK Full Size USP 40 or my Springfield Range Officer 1911.]

2 – You Shouldn’t Carry a .380

Many gun people claim that the .380 caliber round doesn’t have enough “stopping power” to be effective. The thing to keep in mind . . .

Defensive shooting is about more than stopping power. As Grant Cunningham over at Personal Defense Network points out, defensive shooting is a blend of stopping power, accuracy and speed. The .380 will recoil less and allow you to get faster more accurate groupings then the same size pistol in 9mm.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with .380 as a defensive round – especially when you consider the fact that most defensive gun uses end without a shot being fired. Small, soft-shooting .380s are easy to carry concealed. Do not discount them.

3 – You Don’t Need To Carry All The Time

Sometimes it seems like a lot of work to put your firearm on to run to the corner shop to get milk. The truth is you never know in advance when you’ll need your firearm. Bad things happen in good neighborhoods, in corner shops just like yours. They happen to people on the way to and from work and even in their own homes.

Unless you have psychic abilities you can never truly know when your firearm might be needed. Carry it with you at all times.

4 – You Don’t Need To Carry With A Round In The Chamber

Many people don’t carry their concealed carry firearm with a round in the chamber. They’re uncomfortable with the idea that the gun is ready to shoot. It might “go off” accidentally. They believe they’ll have time to rack the slide in the event they need to use their firearm.

The unfortunate truth: you may not have the “extra” seconds you need to rack the slide in a defensive gun use. Most gunfights follow the three – three – three pattern: three feet, three seconds, three shots. If you “waste” a second racking your gun, an attacker could be right on top of you, preventing you from firing at all. Not having a round in the chamber could be the difference between life and death.

Carrying a round in the chamber is perfectly safe as long as you are using the correct holster for your gun and you follow all safety rules.

5 – A Concealed Carry Permit Is All You Need To Carry Effectively

Some people believe concealed carry permit training makes them “trained” to use a firearm in a defensive situation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most concealed carry permit classes don’t even provide a basic firearm competency test, much less prepare you for a defensive situation.

To be as prepared as possible to use your firearm during a life-threatening event, you need additional and ongoing defensive training.

6 – You Don’t Need A Spare Magazine

This is most often said by people who carry a firearm that has a large capacity however many who carry a smaller capacity firearm also carry without an extra magazine. Carrying an extra magazine is not only about having more bullets, it’s also about having the spare magazine in the case of an issue with the first. In the heat of the moment in a defensive situation you don’t want to be stuck with no options.

Often the fastest thing to do in the case of a gun not working properly is to change the magazine which may help to resolve the issue and save your life.


Scott Polk
Scott Polk

About Scott Polk

Scott Polk is a contributor to AmmoLand Shooting Sports News and active in the Great State of Idaho for gun rights.

He supports constitutional carry for everyone. He currently, works with local grass-roots organizations to educate and assist with messaging.

In addition Scott Polk is a pro-gun/second amendment business owner that specializes in internet marketing.


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  1. I will add, “the best/ only, gun you should need/ want is a 9mm “. In my mind the one size fits all answer is arrogant or foolish.

  2. The full size pistol thing is the best one here. I’ve seen plainclothes LE conceal everything from Beretta 92FS, to an HK USP45. I saw a P220 in an ankle hostler even, and in each case, you could not tell unless the officer showed you. It IS all in how you wear the gun.

  3. Sigh.. I hate that “has to have a round chambered” rule, I don’t carry that way and that’s how I train, I have young children and statistically an AD is probably higher than a mugging/DGU, not having a round chambered adds an extra layer of security because no matter how careful you are, that one “oh sh!t” moment erases all the previous moments… the one thing I’ve learned from lists like these is the rules only apply to those who they apply to.

    • As long as you realize you’re giving up your main defensive tool in any situation where you don’t have a spare couple of seconds with both hands free. I remember a guy in Ohio a few years back, was using his left hand to hold himself inside his car at a gas station while two thugs tried to drag him out as he drew and fired one handed.

      • Yep.

        A lot of this to me boils down to “how much has to go ‘right’ for this to work out?”

        There are many things that can go wrong during a DGU that are completely out of our control.

        But in the “draw,shoot” vs “draw, cycle action, shoot” discussion, it just seems to me like borrowing trouble. I can well imagine needing my other hand for something else at that critical juncture.

        There are ways to cycle the action without a second hand…and they ALL require more stuff to “go right” than just “draw and shoot.” And some are downright slow…okay if that’s all you got for a reload, for example, but at the crucial moment of presentation?

        No thanks.

        To each his own, though. For my part, I just think the “safety” of not carrying with a round chamber is overblown and based more on emotion than rational cost-benefit analysis.

    • I would mention that this list does specifically mention on body carry with a proper holster. Having little children is a concern with EVERYTHING in your house which is why if you are not using it, you put it somewhere that they cannot get to it. You have drain clearing solution that is poisonous if ingested in your home (or most homes) and when you are using it, it is in your possession and when you are not using it you make sure that it is out of the way and can do no damage. Furthermore you make sure that your children understand that that is not food and should not be played with because it is extremely dangerous. The same goes for firearms. That “oh shit” moment that you are referring to is mechanically impossible in a proper holster in on body carry. When it is not in that holster on your body, it should be in the safe where it is equally mechanically impossible to hurt your young children.

      • ^^^THIS.
        Its not “I have guns- evil guns are dangerous to kids.”, its “I have kids – their environment is my responsibility as a parent.”

    • Number 2 says “– especially when you consider the fact that most defensive gun uses end without a shot being fired” which makes me think a round in the pipe isn’t that important (I’ve heard it called “Israeli carry”).

      • Most defensive gun uses do end without a round being fired, but if you were willing to bet your life on that statistic we would all carry fake hollywood props instead of guns. Looks like a gun and could possibly scare someone away but if you actually NEED it for its defensive purpose you are screwed. Likewise the article also stated that most defensive gun uses are in “bad breath” distances. Are you willing to bet your last dollar that the person about to do you or your loved ones great bodily harm is slow enough within 3 feet of you that you can rack the slide of your handgun and shoot? Im not. If he runs after I pull the gun; great. I call the cops and reholster. If he doesnt, I don’t want my life hinging on the fact that I chose to be lazy and negligent and didnt train hard enough not to keep my booger hook off the bang switch.

    • If you don’t have time to chamber a round how are you gonna have time to change a mag or clear a malfunction?

      See why revolvers are superiour to auto’s?

      • While I’m not knocking revolvers or debating the superiority of one vs the other, your statement ignores that with a round in the chamber of a semi-auto, at least the first shot is likely with a malfunction.

        “Revolvers malfunction less” is not really relevant to the round-in-chamber or not of a semi debate.

        • Theoretically, if anything an auto should have a better chance of clearing the first round out of the pipe if chambered than a revolver because it doesn’t require the cylinder to rotate. It’s the subsequent shots that have a better chance of firing properly in a revolver.

    • In addition to the timing issue, over 99% of all semi-auto malfunctions occur while loading a round. If you’re carrying on body its best to keep a round in the chamber, otherwise yes it depends on your situation.

    • Don’t listen to the naysayers, everyone’s situation is different. People who poo-poo chamberless carry assume that smart people never do stupid things, but smart people do stupid things all the time. And smart people’s small children do stupid things even more frequently. You seem to understand the risk/reward ratio and you train to mitigate the risks. True, there’s a very small chance you’ll lose your life because of your decision, but there’s also a significant chance that you or your children could be saved by your decision.

      One possible compromise is to switch to a SA/DA with a safety. Doubling up on safety mechanisms greatly reduces you chance of an ND.

      • Look we aren’t “poo poo-ing” it per se. Carrying a gun without a round in the chamber puts you LEAGUES ahead of someone not carrying at all. However, the argument that people do stupid things on occasion and as a result you have to make everything less effective is inapplicable to nearly everything else in your life. Just because sometimes people make bad decisions and drive a car drunk doesnt mean that we make everyone get a background check before getting alcohol. Just because some people do stupid things with a gun doesnt mean we prohibit people from owning guns. Just because some people cut themselves or others with a knife doesnt mean we blunt every knife and then resharpen it when we are going to use it. Just because sometimes people shoot people doesnt mean I’m going to walk around with a trigger lock on my defensive pistol.

        Make no mistake, you are carrying that firearm for one reason. To defend the lives of you and the people that you love. Are you really going to look me in the eye and tell me that you can do that just as quickly and efficiently in a life or death scenario as having one round in the chamber? SECONDS count here. There are variables to consider, like needing one hand to fend off attacks, hold back loved ones, potentially being injured on one of your hands, you might not have the option to rack that slide.

        The fact is that you have a defensive pistol that you are crippling for its intended purpose in order to cater to mistakes that can and will be avoiding with proper safe handing of firearms. If it is out of the safe it should be in a proper holster. If it is not in the holster it goes back in the safe, simple as that. If you want to finger the trigger all day long than yeah you shouldnt have a round in the chamber but lets not dilute ourselves into thinking that most self defense scenarios are going to allow you to pull your firearm, rack the slide, then acquire a perfect sight picture with a two handed grip. Self defense is messy.

        • I hear you, and you may be surprised to know, have thought this through before making my personal choice on how I want to carry and how I train. I’m not telling anyone else how to do it, but it amazes me how many armchair commandos will tell me how it should be done. Statistically the chance of having a DGU is small, it’s even more minuscule when you talk about firing that gun in a DGU, in many of those cases, if you have some situational awareness, there will be time to chamber a round, so the chances of being in a situation where I don’t have time and will need to fire is even smaller. (And in those situations there is a good possibility I’ll have my knife in my hand faster than my gun, and yes, I do train for that as well). That doesn’t mean I don’t carry, since the odds are so small, just that I do it my way.

          Having said that, like everything in life, it is a crapshoot, I have made my calculations based on my life and my understanding, and am comfortable with my decision. Should it turn out to be the wrong one, then at least it was one I made for myself.

          I’m not worried about accidentally hitting the trigger, I am worried about forgetting the gun somewhere, and guess what, that has happened to me.. and to others (more professional than me) based on the bathroom stories we see around here. My children are also trained to not touch a gun and to find an adult if they find one. I think of this as an extra layer of security that I add for myself. Of course it’s not for everyone! But keep telling me how I should do it based on your vast experiences in DGU that you must have on a daily basis.

        • ‘Make no mistake, you are carrying that firearm for one reason. To defend the lives of you and the people that you love’

          To be honest, that’s not the primary reason I carry a firearm. The odds that my life (or someone I love) will depend on having a firearm are really, really low. My primary reason for carrying a weapon was summed up by Socrates when he said, ‘When two men are walking, you can always tell which one is the slave and which one is the freeman. The freeman is armed.’

          ‘There are variables to consider, like needing one hand to fend off attacks…’

          Which is why I consider the Weaver stance to be far superior to the Isosceles stance. The natural defensive stance is to put your strong foot back so you can use your weak hand to defend while your strong hand is used offensively. If you’re that close, I’d suggest jabbing your enemy in the eye with the muzzle of your unchambered gun, then breaking free, work the slide and fire.

        • I think you hit on the carry chambered or not debate with your drunk driving analogy.

          The law permits up to .08. Some people, however, feel that they are not safe at .04 or anything above .00. That’s fine and a decision they make for themselves. Similarly, some feel that they are fine carrying chambered while others feel compromised. It’s a decision you need to make for yourself.

          I mean, if you really want to be sure to get that first shot off, wouldn’t you be better off with a competition trigger, hammer cocked, safety off?

        • Exactly my point. You are crippling your self defense firearm for which there are millions of defensive gun uses, to prepare for the dozen or two children accidentally killing themselves each year. Yeah its a tragedy, but really? There are people that die from air bags each year but I sure as hell am not going to pull them out of my car because I have a far more likely chance of needing them to save my life. Same difference.

        • Vs. the actual number of weapons carrying adults killed because they didn’t have a round chambered?!?

      • I open carry an unloaded BB pistol that looks like a real 1911 auto in case my grand child gets ahold of it they don’t shoot their eye out and still people think I’m ready for battle . I also carry a very dull pocket knife for similar reasons . My tactical flashlight is battery less because at 600 lumens and on strobe flash the children could potentially blind themselves . Same idea behind me blacking out all the ends of my laser sights , sure wouldn’t want my grand kids to blind themselves or anyone else . I have installed special air bags under the play equipment and always insist that they wear their kneepads and helmets when biking and only use the very best car seats too . No gluten in their diets , no sugar or dyes and no spankings either , I want them to grow up believing people can settle their disputes without violence .

        • What I meant to say is this . If you can’t keep a child from obtaining your firearm you should not carry a firearm . The only way a kid would ever get my gun in their hand would be to knock my ass out .

    • ‘liljoe said

      I have young children and statistically an AD is probably higher than a mugging/DGU …

      And that would be utterly incorrect. The number of negligent discharges that injure or kill someone are something like 1,000 events annually, versus more than 1 million violent crimes annually. So, your odds of being the victim of a violent crime are several orders of magnitude more likely than negligently discharging your handgun and causing someone’s injury or death.

      Keep a round in the chamber and keep your firearm in a secure and properly fitting holster which all but makes a negligent discharge impossible. Use a retention holster if necessary.

      • Apples… Meet oranges.

        Let’s talk events. I’ve had 3 episodes of accidental discharges in my 6 years shooting, all on the range and with the gun pointed in a safe direction… I’ve been mugged never (and I grew up in Brooklyn and went to med school in the Bronx). How many people in this audience have, at one time, fired a gun accidentally? How many involved in a DGU? I know anecdotal doesn’t trump statistics, but the stats have to be relevant to each other, we don’t know how many “oh sh1t” moments are out there because most don’t get reported and don’t end in injury… So you can’t make any kind of comparison study.

    • Not sure if it’s been mentioned above, but I would say that if you know you don’t keep a round chambered you’re more likely to breed bad handling habits and are more likely to have an ND than if you know you always have one in the pipe. The idea that you have an extra layer of safety is enough to build complacency, and THAT is when bad things happen.

    • I also have small children and have evolved into similar thinking. I understand that carrying chambered allows faster reaction time, but like you said, the extra layer of protection is what I need. My 5 year old has a healthy respect for firearms given her age, but children can still be unpredictable. I can’t think of a scenario off hand that would put my firearm out of my direct control, but if the unimaginable happened, the extra layer of safety would buy me the time to regain control of my weapon before a shot could be unintentionally fired.

  4. Good article. I also carry the Ruger LCP in the summer months (with a DeSantis holster) and when it gets cooler, the Glock 26 comes out. I friend of mine carries a 1911. It’s really about what you prefer and how you conceal it, there’s no one size fits all approach here, in my opinion.

    Regarding carrying without a round in the chamber – I think that’s a terrible idea. I understand some might be afraid of having a negligent discharge, but unless the gun you’re carrying is junk or damaged, it’s not going to just “go off”. Be careful, be cognizant, and you won’t have any issues.

  5. Carrying a different type of gun for each season instead of finding a reasonably sized pew-pew in one of the preferred calibers, training with it extensively and dressing around it seems more Barbie and less GI Joe.

  6. I was recently laid up and I ended up watching about a zillion episodes of First 48. Far and away the most prevalent calibers used in the murders portrayed were .380 and .22 followed by 9mm. .380 will work just fine.

  7. I don’t have too many concerns about carrying a .380 but I have yet to find a .380 handgun that didn’t have more felt recoil than it’s 9mm equivalent. I haven’t tried the Kahr 380 yet, maybe that one is softer shooting.

    • The Kahr CW380 is definitely smoother/softer shooting than the LCP. That – in addition to the lock open on empty mag – is why I switched to it – in a Desantis Nemesis – from the LCP (after putting 350 rounds of various target and my preferred defensive ammo through the Kahr). The first 150 did have a few hiccups, but its recoil spring that makes it a softer shooter – and strong mag springs – were to blame for that. I recommend giving it a try.

      • +1 I own a Kahr P380, it is head and shoulders above every other pocket .380 I have ever shot (Ruger LCP, Taurus TCP, S&W Bodyguard, among others). That said, I haven’t fondled a Glock 42, and I would bet that it would be worth a look.

        My Kahr has a great trigger for a .380, decent sites, and has been reliable outside of the first 100 rounds. The recommendation on the Nemesis was a good one as well, it stays in the pocket on the draw pretty well.

      • I agree with the CW380 (of P380) over the lcp. One more thing: the Kahr has usable sights, which would come in handy if you had to use it at a distance where you actually had to aim.

  8. 1. An extra mag is like a back up gun. You need neither. If you want to, that’s fine, but you do not need to. As the author said, most DGUs involve no shots fired. Most of the rest follow the 3-3-3 rule, meaning only three shots are fired. Even then, one is often enough to have the BG fleeing in the typical armed assault. YMMV if you are targeted for assassination, are a member of a gang of some type, likely to be kidnapped, etc. For the rest of us, not so much.

    2. Professional training is desirable, but not “needed.” Multiple DGUs have been reported here of people who have no firearms training at all successfully defending their homes. Many people haven’t the money for it. And for us older folks, running around shooting at targets for eight hours is physically impossible.There is plenty of free information online that teach all the basic techniques, and practice is an adequate substitute for most of what one will do in any given class

    • Sort of this. Taking some classes increases your comfort level but not much else unless you practice what you learned regularly. Most of what we call training is actually just instruction anyway . At a minimum real training is something like a week at the SIg Saur Acadamy.

      I have said this many times but I will say it again. The wrong training can be worse than no training at all because it trains you to do the wrong thing. Training should be what the miltary calls mission oriented. Most training classes focus too much on the gun part and not enough on avoidence. As an armed citizen your “mission” is to turn an unlikely event into an improbable event with being a good gunfighter as a plus. Besides you won’t know that you are good until you get into a fight which is something you don’t want to do.

      Remember this, if you you find your self in a gun fight you have failed.

    • The vast majority of people don’t ‘need’ a firearm at all. Then there’s also needs and then there’s NEEDS. It’s a need if not having a firearm results in the loss of your wallet and a NEED if the lack of a firearm results in your death. None of us are prescient, so all we can do is assess our odds and prepare to a level we feel comfortable with. Odds of needing a firearm – low. Odds of needing a backup gun or magazine – really low. Odds of needing a round in the chamber are much lower than the odds of needing the weapon in the first place, since the majority of DGUs require no shots at all.

      Now if you enjoy being kitted up and ready for battle, have at it. For me a .357 revolver, a speed strip and some modest training is good enough. YMMV.

  9. +1 for #1

    5′ 10, 170 lbs. can conceal a G17 with an inside waistband holster at 3:30 position while wearing a sweatshirt or sweater. no probs. summertime can wear a lighter, large shirt with a little bit of printing from the grip…but still no one around me seems to notice or care

  10. There’s always the “All handgun loads are anemic and therefor ineffective for self defense!” Which is why I EDC an AR “pistol” in a SARRP holster, and a Serbu Super Shorty as my BUG. I also wear 30 lbs for concealment.

  11. I think it’s prudent to carry ready.
    A round chambered. Extra mags.
    Make it an unfair fight.
    Fnx .45 ….2 spare mags ..crossbreed iwb holster soon to change up to alien gear . crossbreed kydex cracking after two years edc.
    Rather carry heavy than wish i had more, i carried more gear when i was in the service so anyone to tired or too heavy to carry maybe shouldn’t in the first place.

  12. I like the idea for different guns for different seasons. Also depends on clothing. Wife carries a .22Mag NA revolver for when she is in one of her tight fitting outfits that you couldn’t carry that Ruger LCP without obviously printing or outright showing.

    I would point out that my wife’s gun is my backup. how many videos has shown where they guy gets sucker-punched and is down on the ground unconscious/delirious. Most of the time the woman is off to the side watching. Mine would be sending the roaches scattering. At least long enough for me to ‘come to’ and also get my gun into service.

  13. I’ve talked to people that have thought you couldn’t conceal a fullsize handgun. When I informed them that I had a full size, 10mm 1911 concealed in an OWB holster, they looked me over, couldn’t spot it, and admitted to being impressed and changed their minds. I have also concealed a 4.6″ barrel .44 magnum super blackhawk without anyone knowing it was there. And I’m 6 foot, 170 pounds, so not really a big guy. I love debunking the no full size myth. All of these are great tips though. Thanks for the writeup.

    • I carry a full size Smith and Wesson M&P 40 all the time with a thin holster and an “odd” method: my holster is “outside-the-waistband” … and yet it is “inside-the-belt”. Oh, and I carry at the three O’Clock position. No one has ever seen it.

      I recently revealed it to a person who has their own concealed carry license and had spent hours with me over several days. They were shocked and admitted that they had no idea even though they make it a point to look for concealed handguns on the people with whom they come in contact. In fact that person still could not tell the next day even after knowing that I usually carry my handgun on my hip.

      I believe the key to my success is the very thin holster and carrying the handgun inside my belt. The belt pulls it into my body and, thanks to the thin holster, the handgun and holster combination disappears. Of course you have to wear properly fitting shirts over it … which excludes tucked or flattering (e.g. tight fitting) shirts.

    • I”m 6 ft, 210# and have carried a K frame.357 for years without anyone noticing. It’s simple to conceal when you wear a jacket and tie most of the day. A bit more difficult in summer recreational clothing, but loose shirts do wonders.
      The inside the belt, outside the pants trick does work well with the right holster. Currently using a FrontLine leather for that.

  14. Just a note about recoil…
    Several 380 pocket models do have a pretty good kick.
    The mildest recoil I have found is the new S&W – M&P Bodyguard .380.
    I have a number of 9mm and 45. Most general outings I use a M&P 9 – Shield-cc.
    Here in TX and summer for 7-8 months, my new M&P .380Bodyguard is with now me.
    Go to a range, test and test different models. had/has them
    at an unreal $269. A $379 – msrp. YES-M&P .380 new! No Tax & Free-shipping.
    I got two for gifts.

  15. ‘especially when you consider the fact that most defensive gun uses end without a shot being fired’

    This logic always bothers me, like wtf is point of loading the gun if this is the logic i am using

  16. “4 – You Don’t Need To Carry With A Round In The Chamber”

    If it’s striker-fired and it’s appendix carried you may want to reconsider…

    • Right gun for the situation.

      I’d be twitchy about wearing a Glock appendix (I’d at least want a Gadget for holstering assurance) but I wouldn’t worry a lick about carrying a striker-fired frame safety or DA/SA pistol that way.

      • ……………. and do . Ruger P 95 , P 85 , Ruger SR 9C , Kel-Tec PMR 30 , depending on where I am and where I’m going to be , always have a round chambered safety engaged . I have also been known to holster my P 95 on my hip OC 17+1 , with an extra magazine while my PMR 30 is nestled safely under my shirt against my tummy 29+1.

    • If the rule is to never point a loaded gun at something you don’t want to destroy, is there an exception for your thigh? Not with a striker fired firearm with no safeties and a light trigger, no thanks. I”ll leave Glock Leg (TM) to the professionals.

  17. “You have to carry a 9mm or larger striker – fired poly pistol iwb with one in the chamber and no external safety, because dgu’s happen in .05 nanoseconds and you’ve got be a frosty operator, man.” – Every mall ninja ever.

    • Open carry is not legal in my state–at l;east in urban areas, and since I don’t want to be arrested mu h less convicted of a misdemeanor or felony that could eliminate my right to keep or bear, I’ll pass, tyvm.

  18. Thought provoking – thanks.

    Regarding the usefulness of the .380, there is an old saying, “It is never too light or too small when you have to carry it; it is never big enough when you have to pull it and use it.”

  19. If you’re worried about not having enough gun while carrying a .380, check into some of that Lehigh Defense Xtreme Penetrator ammo. Or the hotter Underwood loads using the same bullet. MAC recently posted a video on their effectiveness. Only problem is, you might want to dig those bullets out of whatever you shoot ’em into…

    It’s a cost benefit analysis: do you want to put up with the issues larger guns present (weight, concealability, comfort) for the superior round, penetrative, and perforative capacities? The main thing is to have a gun when you need it, even if it’s anemic. The cost benefit analysis is up to the user to determine which options best suit the need.

  20. “The .380 will recoil less and allow you to get faster more accurate groupings then the same size pistol in 9mm.”

    Yeah but the most popular pocket-sized .380 pistols kick like irate beasts. If you’re carrying a .380 the size of a 9mm you could just carry a 9mm.

    • If the two guns are the same size, and the .380 kicks like an “irate beast”, wouldn’t the 9mm kick like 1.5 irate beasts, then? Physics is physics, and the 9mm’s extra recoil energy has to go somewhere.

      • My point is, the most popular .380s (LCP, Bodyguard380, P3AT, TCP, and such) are ridiculously small, lightweight, and unpleasant. The .380s that are the size of a single-stack 9mm tend to shoot pretty nice, but then, so do single stack 9mms.

  21. “Your choice depends on a number of variables, including your hand size, your preferred gun type (revolver or semi-automatic) and caliber, the kind of holster you use, your job, your wardrobe and the weather.” This is the most important statement, to which I would also add body shape and height. I have to dress up for work and don’t plan to change out all my clothes to one size larger. I have tried carrying my SR 9C at 4 o’clock IWB under a blazer but it still prints too much for work; and it would be far worse retrieving it from under a shirt at 4 o’clock if I ever had to use it. My solution is a Taurus 738 and a pocket holster. It is loaded with Fiocchi cartridges with XTP hollow points as tested here by Shootingthebull410. It literally disappears in any pants or jacket pocket. And the 2nd magazine disappears into another pocket. Would be the same with any of the little .380’s depending on one’s price point and the feel in the hand. I changed out the innards to Galloway. I am still not sure whether their trigger made a difference, but the 12 lb recoil spring made a huge difference in felt recoil and I believe accuracy at the target range, although the original recoil did not bother me. The long trigger pull on the little .380’s would make an accidental discharge with one in the chamber very difficult.

    • Kahr makes some lovely DA pocket nines with 3 or 3.5″ barrels that are just as small as your Taurus. The “C” series guns are $400 or less.

  22. Good article. Main reason I read TTAG is how much I learn from reasoned debate with so many experienced shooters, from all walks of life, plus noobs asking good questions.

    I am taking issue with #4- the myth that “one condition of carry fits all situations”
    specifically that you cant carry condition 3. (empty chamber).

    I’m sticking with Israeli Carry- you can train to rack on draw just about as fast as regular draw.

    And for those Yaeger fans out there – I am not special ops, nor a cop, nor am I training to be one.
    I am an OFWG who has kids around, and dont mind taking 0.1 seconds for that safety factor.

    • Yeah I’m with you FooDog. I came to this all rather late in the game(late 50’s) and and am not paranoid about racking a slide quickly. The point is to have a gun and be willing to use it. All those so-called DGU statistics don’t mean much if you can’t pull a trigger. However in the home I am all for a ready to go pistol or shotgun…no little kids here-just 2 twenty something sons and my pro-gun wife.

  23. i went for a walk the other night with 2 concealed LCRs (one in front pocket, one at 8:00, i’m a lefty) and i felt like such a setup had some promise…

    i’m mostly being silly…but i also can’t say i’ll never do it again either.

  24. You should add another myth
    Printing is the worst thing about concealed carry.

    I obsessed about printing. Wearing huge shirts, changing 5 or 6 times before going out constantly checking and worrying if someone can tell if they can tell if I’m carrying. But I finally realized the average person is around 99% oblivious to the world around them and criminals aren’t the brightest either so worrying about printing is not as important as I first thought it was.

  25. I very much dislike these “musts, myths and rules” articles. I don’t know the OP’s background, but most of the them are written by people who haven’t been in any gunfights, they’ve just got a lot of training certifications. They’re like Karate’ instructors who’ve never been in a fight.

    These articles then produce a lot of pontification from posters with even less credentials. It makes the average carrier feel like, “Well if I can’t follow all these rules, I might as well not carry at all.”

    I say carry what you like, how you like. You are way, way better off than not carrying at all. Train for you what you think you might run into and train however makes you comfortable with your safety and your family’s safety balanced with your ability to defend. No matter how tacticool someone claims they are, they’re not ready for everything that could happen. It’s all a matter of degrees. Your brain, especially your situational awareness, is what should keep you out of trouble. Your gun is just a backup to that.

  26. I want to know where the author gets these soft shooting pocket 380s! Mine is the worst recoiling pistol I have. Add in double action only fire control, and that sucker can be tough to shoot.

  27. It has always amused me how many people that say the .380 is insufficient would consider a .38 snubbie to be just fine. Similar ballistics, only five rounds vs. six or more with a quick reload possible

    • I’ve heard that, too. Makes me chuckle, too. Although, some of that difference is really more an SA vs. revolver skirmish, just masquerading as a caliber war.

  28. 1. Can’t carry full size? Well, you declare it a myth, then go on to admit that you, with man hands, only carry full size in the winter. What about someone with smaller hands (male or female?) What about females with less accommodating outfits? What about in place with very minimal winter seasons? Acknowledging up front that there are infinite various scenarios and virtually nothing is 100% absolutely always true or false in every case, there are so many common circumstances recommending against full size for concealed carry that it may be considered true. Myth not busted.

    Shouldn’t carry .380. Well, maybe you shouldn’t. The round itself is fine, granted. Less recoil than a same sized 9mm? Yes, but that’s a false comparison. Your typical .380 isn’t the same size as the typical 9mm. Typical .380 is 6 rounds, while a typical small sized 9mm is 7-10 rounds. The 9mm pistols more than compensate for the round’s greater energy. It’s undersized, underweight mouse .380s with minimal and sweaty purchase that snap hard and bounce around in your grip. Not a plus for follow up shots or even holding onto the weapon. Plus, 9mm is cheaper and more available that .380, especially in hollow point defensive rounds, which allows for more training, you deem important. Myth not busted.

    Don’t always need to carry? True. Just like wearing a seatbelt, even when you’re just going around the corner, it still counts.

    Need a round chambered? Yes, most actual firings follow the 3-3-3 rule, but the even greater majority of defensive gun uses don’t entail firing at all. So it’s not necessary. Also, you can carry empty most times, but chamber before entering dangerous transitions, like exiting the vehicle or leaving the office. Empty chamber may save your life if your kid gets your gun. Myth not busted.

    Training need? Basic proficiency is valuable, as is confirming compatibility between gun and ammo. Beyond thatvus helpful, but probably won’t matter, and is primarily urged by peddlers of such training. Myth not busted.

    Spare mag? Mags fail, but rarely before the end of their expected life, which you won’t reach as a non-enthusiast or non-competitor in shooting sports. If they fail early, it’s probaly you who didn’t seat it properly, not its fault. Justvtap, rack and fire and you’ll be fine. It’s faster than fimbling around looking for a new mag. Myth not busted.

  29. I definitely agree with number 1. When I started carrying I ran through several small pistols, and I didn’t care for how any of them felt in my hands (I’m a bigger guy). I ended switching to my P226, and I’ve never looked back.


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