I change my concealed carry gun quite frequently. I have a rotation for different situations, outfits, and styles of carrying. The rotation includes several guns and holsters with holsters to go with them, and I’ve been asked more than once how correctly do I choose a weapon for concealed carry.
I carry a wide variety of firearms for CCW, with firearms as large as the CZ P09 with all 21 rounds of 9mm. Other days I’m chugging my SIG P365, and sometimes I go even smaller with a Ruger LCR 9mm revolver. I generally have five factors I consider when I pick a CCW to enter the rotation. When it comes to choosing a CCW, I take these five factors into account as well as how and when the gun will be carried.
Size is always a factor when it comes to concealed carry. Concealed means concealed, so something like a Desert Eagle is a little tougher to hide than a Ruger LCP. However, size considerations aren’t always about going small. I carry a big CZ P09 because its a big gun. A big gun is more natural to shoot accurately, more comfortable to control and offers me a large and comfortable grip.
I carry a big gun like this when I am going on a road trip or vacation away from home. I’m too far from my home base and therefore want something a little bigger to protect myself with, especially if I’m driving long distances.
In a shirt and tie the CZ P09 is going to stick out like a sore thumb, so I go with something like the SIG P365 which matches my needs for concealment and a capable firearm. I’m less likely to be threatened or harmed in an event where I'm dressed a little more formal. It’s just the nature of the events.
If I'm heading to a summer BBQ, or even a theme park, or something where clothes are super laid back, casual, and light I go even smaller with the Ruger LCR 9mm. Most events I'd carry this gun to have security or police presence, so the likelihood of being attacked is even lower. The LCR 9mm is a very lightweight gun in a capable cartridge.
To me, more ammo is better than less ammo. I served as a machine gunner for five years, so maybe this is just my machine gunner’s mindset. This is a big reason I’ve been a 9mm fan even before it was cool. So when possible I always choose the gun with a higher capacity.
Guns like the P365 are changing the carry gun game by giving me 10 to 12 rounds in a very compact package. The mindset of “if you can't get it done in X number of rounds you shouldn't carry a gun,” is dumb. Those words are likely spoken by someone who’s never actually never been in a firefight. When choosing a CCW, I want as much ammo as I can carry, while keeping the gun concealed and serving its purpose.
Outside of the stock capacity I also look at alternative magazine options that can increase capacity. For example, Mec-Gar is making several new extended magazines that add a few extra rounds without increasing the magazine’s size very much.
3. Modularity and Accessories
The modern world is a modular one and guns are included in that. When I buy a new gun, I want to know what, if anything, can be changed about it. Can I quickly find and purchase new sights for it? What about extra magazines? What about grips?
All these questions come to mind because I tend to tweak my guns a bit. I typically leave the insides alone, but I like night sights with high vis front sights for carry guns. I also love a full grip, so on firearms like my LCR I added grips that filled my hand. You may want to add a weapon light, and if the gun doesn't have a rail, this becomes much more complicated.
Guns like the SIG P320 exemplify modularity when it comes to firearms, and the more I can change the more I usually like the gun. Even if I never change a thing about it, I want the options. When choosing a CCW, I want to adapt the weapon to my needs.
2. Holster Availability
When I’m considering a new carry gun, I focus on how many, what kind, and who makes holsters for it.
I also want an option to carry extra ammo. Are there mag pouches that fit this gun? This comes in at the #2 spot because why would I choose a CCW I can't carry comfortably and in a variety of situations?
Finally, the most important consideration I have is a gun's purpose. Why am I going to carry this gun? The primary purpose of a CCW is to protect my life, that's number 1. After that, I need a reason why I’m choosing a CCW.
If the gun's purpose is as a backup or for carrying in permissive environments I can compromise on specific factors. If I am looking for a primary carry gun, then I won't compromise on what I need. I use purpose to determine what factors are critical in choosing a CCW.
One Last Thing
Sometimes I buy a new CCW just because I want it. Was my Glock 17 a bad gun? No, but I liked the CZ P09 more. I don't consider this an official factor, but if two guns are equally reliable why not choose the one I love more? Selecting a CCW is an immensely personal choice, and you may have your factors to consider.
*Note* Have you seen JM4 Tactical's New RELIC Series Holsters yet?