Concealed Carry Guide Based on Real-Life Lessons Learned

Guest Post by Josh Montgomery

I was reading my Twitter newsfeed last night when news of some real estate agent successfully defending herself from a possible robbery and homicide caught my eye. She was showing a rental property to the attacker who conducted himself in a real appropriate way – like he’s a renter whose lease will be up soon and doesn’t want to renew it, which is why he’s searching for a new home to move into. 

I read through the story’s entirety and realized that except for a few elements (i.e. I worked as a gun store salesman, not a real estate agent; I prefer a semi-auto over a revolver as my every day concealed carry weapon, and my attacker ended up in a hospital and eventually died while hers went to prison), her experience and mine are practically the same. 

If you’re always in a situation where you or your valuables are under constant threat – maybe you’re living in a town that’s historically known to have a higher than average crime rate compared to others – or maybe it just seems like there aren’t enough police officers patrolling your neighborhood in the wee hours and you feel unsafe – and you would like to know how your concealed carry weapon (CCW) can help you in your particular situation, read more. 

Why training is important

It feels like it was ages ago when this guy who stood at 5’8” or so went into the gun store I was working in. He looked and talked like a regular, told me he needed a 50-round box of .45 ACP Winchester White Box, and as soon as I turned my head a little to reach out for said ammo, he had a revolver pointed at me, demanding I open the register.

Without wasting the precious split second I had, I decisively drew my SIG Sauer P229 loaded with Winchester Defender 9mm +P from my IWB holster and fired five shots. Later on I would learn that three of those shots I fired hit him center of mass.

Perhaps this can be dismissed as some sort of post-rationalization, but in retrospect, had I not been training for two hours a day for over a year before that incident took place, I probably wouldn’t have been able to draw my handgun and shoot at the bad guy as fast as I did. It was all thanks to the muscle memory I developed by spending a lot of time in the range.

Learning about handguns in general

There are probably thousands, if not tens of thousands, of great options currently on the market for self defense. That might sound intimidating, but in general, all self defense firearms can be classified as either a semi-auto or a revolver.

I will not get too technical on the many types of semi-auto handguns and revolvers as far as brands, makes and models. But I’ll touch on the things that matter as far as the two different platforms’ pros and cons, how you can make the most of your particular CCW if you already have one, or which of the two platforms is the better option for you if you’re still shopping around.  

Calibers and self defense loadings

In general, you can’t go wrong with the big three semi-automatic handgun calibers for self defense: 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. With the right self defense loads, all three of these cartridges are viable options, with the 9mm having the lightest recoil and the .40 S&W and .45 ACP having almost the same recoil. But if you’re recoil-shy, you can try the .38 Special for revolvers and even the relatively weak but still adequate .380 ACP (I’d recommend Underwood Extreme Defender if you’re picking the latter).

When anyone asks me for advice on which caliber is best suited for them, I tell them to choose the most powerful caliber they can comfortably shoot for hours in the range without their hands getting sore. This is because the more hours one spends in the range for practice, the better they can handle and shoot their firearm during stressful situations.

As for the specific loading for the caliber you chose, you’d want to do a bit of research. There are a myriad of videos on YouTube showing specific ammo brands and bullet types being tested for penetration and expansion in ballistic gelatin. The ideal load should have just enough powder to penetrate a minimum of 12 inches but without exceeding 18 inches.

Modern bullet designs (like hollow points with the lead core bonded to the copper jacket) might be a little on the expensive side. But when you think about it, it’s better to spend a little more than you’re comfortable with when buying your every day carry (EDC) ammo because your life is worth more than the couple dollars you could save by going with cheaper ammo. 

That’s not to say you should always buy the most expensive self defense ammo you can get your hands on. If there’s one thing that trumps a bullet’s terminal performance, it’s whether that particular bullet would even feed reliably. This is one reason revolver purists cannot be bothered to carry a semi-auto. A semi-auto handgun might be easier to carry concealed, but it can sometimes be picky when it comes to ammo it’ll reliably feed and shoot. 

A revolver will happily spit lead no matter the ammo brand and bullet type, because unlike in semi-autos where only one cartridge is chambered at a time (being the chamber is an integral part of the barrel), the revolver has a single barrel separate from its rotating cylinder where multiple cartridges are chambered at once (minimum of five, maximum of eight, depending on the revolver brand and model).

Ways of carrying your weapon concealed

There are more than a few ways to carry a handgun concealed. You can go with a shoulder holster underneath a coat, an inside-waistband (IWB), an outside-waistband (OWB) underneath a loose button-down shirt or coat, or an appendix carry.

Each has its pros and cons, but the goal is to be able to carry your handgun without printing. There are no hard and fast rules to follow when concealing your firearm. In general it’s all about the clothes you’re wearing – if you want to have an easier time carrying a firearm concealed, you’ll have to wear loose clothing. But beware – depending on what you’re carrying, it might snag loose clothing easier than if you were wearing tighter-fitting clothes. 

Final Thoughts

The most important thing you’d want to know more about is your state and county gun laws. In states where open carry is legal (like my home state, Colorado), there is absolutely no need to carry your firearm concealed (but you can if you want to). 

In anti-gun states, while defending yourself with a concealed carry weapon can be easy if you follow the guidelines I provided on this post, defending your case in court can be a different matter altogether. Unfortunately, we cannot provide legal advice – if you need it, you can always talk to an attorney.

I hope this post has been helpful to anyone looking to carry a concealed firearm for self defense. If you have any questions or need clarification on anything, feel free to leave a comment below. 

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