My answers to “3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Concealed Carry Handgun”

Via the TSRA Weekly NewsBrief I get this article, “3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Concealed Carry Handgun“.

After finding myself screaming at my computer screen after reading the answer to question 1, yeah… I had to write my own responses.

Question 1:  Am I going to get a license to carry concealed or is the gun just for home defense?

The original author’s response:

If you are going to get a permit to carry (good for you) then you need a handgun. If not, then a shotgun is a far better choice for home defense for most people.

Shotguns have a much more threatening image when displayed and can take a greater variety of ammunition, which allows you to regulate the power and avoid over-penetration through walls, which is a risk inside the home.


Now, the question is reasonable and certainly it could affect buying choices. If you are intending to have a weapon off your property (or whatever the laws of your locale dictate), if it’s going to somehow be carried, then yes a handgun is going to be it precisely because it’s easy to carry — that’s a main reason for a handgun. And then yes, that’s why a handgun isn’t always the best option for home defense, because they are underpowered (the trade-off for the ability to easily carry and conceal it). So yes, a long-gun is a better choice — on paper. But a shotgun? Well, maybe. I wrote about all of this a long time ago.

I will not deny a shotgun is a nasty piece of work. But it is not the best choice — and the reasons given are poor.

Threatening image? Who cares! This isn’t a fashion show. This isn’t about bluffing. You don’t pull a gun out until you are in fear of your life, and when it’s time to pull out a gun, it’s time to be using it. If you’re just bluffing, you’re risking a lot of legal problems for yourself. And if it’s time to bluff and put on a threatening show, then it’s not really time to pull out a shotgun.

Ammunition variety? Look, if you don’t have ammo that can penetrate sheet rock, they it won’t penetrate clothing and bad guys either. Yes we want to minimize collateral damage, but you also need to stop the threat.

And regulating power? Well, even low-recoil stuff was too much for Wife to handle — even out of a 20 gauge. Give her an AR-15? No problem. I mean, if our reasons for picking a gun is “threatening image”, then I think an AR wins over a shotgun — just ask Dianne Feinstein.

But for all the reasons I wrote before, an AR is a far better choice.

Really tho, choices of “what’s best” are very dependant upon the person and their specific situation. A pistol caliber carbine may be better for someone, or just a handgun may be right. There’s no one right answer. But the reasons given for this answer? Not even.

Question 2:  Am I going to regularly practice shooting with the gun I purchase?   (Be honest.)

The original answer:

If you are committed to becoming a hobby shooter, then a more complex firearm is acceptable. Otherwise simplicity of operation should be at the top of your “features” list. That means a revolver rather than a semi-auto pistol and—this may surprise you—a double barrel shotgun rather than a pump.

I’ve spent lots of range time teaching young cops both types of handguns. Based on that experience, revolvers are simply more reliable than semi-autos. With a revolver, you point … you pull the trigger and it goes “bang.”

A semi-auto requires regular practice (at least 50 rounds, twice a year) to maintain proficiency. A revolver can be learned once and, if necessary, put away in a safe place (I always recommend practice, practice, practice, however).

Pump shotguns are great if you practice with them or have a background in wingshooting. However, while under stress new pump operators can “short shuck” the action and jam the gun. A double barrel 12 ga. with a flashlight taped to the business end is an awesome home defense weapon and is very easy to manipulate under pressure. (Note: These handy and reliable firearms are sometimes called “coach guns”).

Simplicity of operation should be at the top of the features list, period. Granted yes, having a firearm for other purposes (hobby, collecting, etc.) could allow for more complex stuff, but in general simplicity is a better choice regardless. That’s the engineer in me talking.

And I won’t disagree about the complexity of a pump shotgun. For all the reliability a pump gives you, it is a more complex manual of arms and one unlike many other guns out there. Most guns are “point and click” (semi-autos, revolvers both are), but a pump shotgun is “point, click, rack” and yes, short-shucking happens to the best of us. But geez, to recommend a double-barrel over a semi-auto? Well, sure I guess and I do see the point behind the suggestion, but modern semi-auto shotguns are reliable — so long as you verified and paired it with the right ammo. In fact, many times a semi-auto ends up being a lot more comfortable to shoot because the gas and other energy from the shot ends up reducing the felt-recoil — again, we’re talking a 12 gauge here! it’s going to kick like a mule.  But again, let’s not go there with the shotgun.

What really gets me is the suggestion of a revolver.

They are more reliable? Oh please. Can someone please leave this myth buried in the grave? Revolvers certainly do malfunction, ask me how I know.

And you know what? With my semi-auto? I point, I press the trigger, and it goes “bang” too.

The person asking the question? A woman. I’ve taught hundreds upon hundreds of students and seen all kinds of things. One thing that tends to hold is that women have smaller and weaker hands. This is not sexist, this is biology, this is anatomy. Revolvers generally have long, heavy triggers. Many women (and men too) have trouble reaching the trigger with an acceptable grip, then have a hard time pressing the trigger because it’s so heavy. Tell me how this is conducive towards getting acceptable hits? And especially with the suggestion that you can “learn once and put it away”, good lord… that’s a recipe for disaster. I mean, the talk about shotgun ammo to avoid collateral damage, and then suggesting to undertake behaviors that lead towards that very thing? Cripes! OK sure… there’s the recommendation to practice, but come on — a revolver requires practice, a semi-auto requires practice, a double-barrel shotgun requires practice. It ALL requires practice.

Question 3: Can I afford lots of ammo for this particular gun for practice and long term storage?

Original answer:

I recommend you add the cost of 1,000 rounds of ammo to whatever gun you buy. Practice is more important than gun type or caliber and the fear (real or imagined) of government restrictions can empty shelves of ammunition for your gun overnight.

If you are truly “living ready” then you need to have ammo put away—in a cool and dry location, properly stored ammunition will last for decades.

A good question. It’s a question a lot of people don’t think about when they consider the cost of purchasing a gun. They think about the cost of the gun and that’s all. They really need to factor in the gun, cost of any modifications (usually at least better sights), accessories (e.g. holster), some additional magazines or other ammo holders (e.g. moon clips), then yes, a bunch of ammo (both practice and self-defense rounds).

And I’ll agree — practice is the more important than gun type or caliber and all that.

I’ll add to this: cost of training.

Please. Seek out some professional firearms training. It will serve you well, especially because you’ll learn a lot and learn how to practice the necessary skills. Factor that into your budget.

The article ends with:

Please remember, this is not legal advice (you should know your laws) every person has different needs and capacities and every gunfight is different. When making tactical decisions, always get a second opinion.

Indeed. This is not legal advice.

But it is a second opinion.