If I Was Starting Out, Part IV

Much work has been done, and even if your choices were different than the ones I made in the last several posts, I hope you can see how I made them. To recap, we would now own a .22 rifle, a full sized revolver in .357, a pump 12ga shotgun, and a scoped hunting rifle in one of the common .30 calibers. If we stopped right there, there is very little we couldn’t do.

But let’s go along two more steps. A .22 caliber handgun. A Ruger Mark 3, a Buckmark, an old Colt Woodsman, or any of the .22 revolver offerings from S&W, Colt, or Ruger. Pick one you like, it will always be a fun gun to take to the range and you’ll have something to teach your grandchildren to shoot with.

One last gun, if concealed carry is legal in your state, is your first true concealed carry gun. Here’s a gun where there are lots of opinions. Since you’re here, you get to read mine. The final, absolute standard for CCW is reliability. If you need this firearm badly enough to draw it from concealment, you need it very badly indeed. It has to work.

It has to be concealable. In the summer. It has to be manageable when you draw it under stress. It has to be easy to operate. It has to aim well. It has to be in a caliber that allows you to have confidence that this gun will do the job.

The question of caliber is one that will not be decided here, or anywhere else. Gun forums are full of stickies on this issue. I draw the line at 9mm/.38 as a minimum caliber for self defense. Others like .40S&W, or in the other direction, .380auto.

If I wanted an automatic, I would be looking at a Glock, a Springfield XD, or a Sig in 9mm. All of them come in compact or sub-compact sizes.

If I decided to carry a revolver, a S&W 640 or a Ruger SP101 in .357magnum.

When you make a choice, it needs to include the choices about how you will carry it. An ankle holster hides it well, but your leg feels like a pendulum, and if you need it, you have to kneel down, giving away your intentions, and making you vulnerable during that time. Pocket carry is okay in the winter with very small guns, but takes up a pocket, and might not work in the summer. Inside or outside the waistband requires that you wear a loose garment over the weapon, making tucking your shirt in impossible. Also, the shirt can ride up, exposing the holster and leaving you feeling less than concealed. Everything about concealed carry is a compromise, and you make them, then later reconsider and try something else.

Whatever you decide on, it needs to be one of your regular shooters. Getting a tiny little gun and never shooting it is full of fail. Practice drawing from concealment. Practice taking a step back, drawing and getting off one shot accurately at 3 yards, then 5. Practice 2 shots. Practice reloading. Practice skills that you hope you will never need except in a match at the local range. Practice.

Get a permit, carry when you can. To turn this whole series over, there might be reason to make this the first gun. Tomorrow, I have some general observations on the process as I went through it over the last several years, and how you pick out the next gun when these slots are filled.

When you are not practicing, remember, someone somewhere is practicing, and when you meet him he will win.
–Ed Macauley


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