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Preface: Very often there are threads posted by folks asking for info & input toward purchasing their first pistol for use toward home defense and/or CCW. The responses always revolve around the same thing; Glock.*, Revolver.*, 1911, and some other autolader.*.
This article addresses this basic and very common question with a host of options both in pistol as well as chambering.


As featured in Guns & Ammo Magazine:

Which Concealed Carry Gun?
Making the right choice, as if your life depended on it.

By Clair Rees

Earlier this year a friend was astonished to learn I didn't have a concealed carry permit. I live in a "must issue" state, where permits are available by simply attending a three-hour class, being photographed and fingerprinted, and paying a fee.

Why not own a concealed carry permit? Frankly, it never occurred to me. I'm not a policeman, and I live in a "safe" middle-class neighborhood. But I've recently had second thoughts. Everywhere you look, the safety of ordinary citizens is being gradually eroded by car jackings, home-invasion robberies and formerly rare drive-by shootings. Crackheads and teenaged gangs are arming themselves. Maybe I should take the hint?

I've been writing about guns and hunting far longer than I care to admit. During that time, I've accumulated a sizeable collection of firearms, including I don't know how many pistols and revolvers. I spend a lot of time in desert and mountain country, where my bigbore handguns are carried holstered in plain sight.

Concealed carry pistols tested, clockwise from top: Smith & Wesson Model 60, North American Arms Guardian, Glock Model 36, Kimber 1911 Compact Aluminum, Kahr PM9, S&W Model 340.

I admit to sometimes tucking a small pocket pistol into--where else?--a pocket when hiking wilderness trails. I've also kept a handgun quietly out of sight on family camping trips. I didn't advertise its presence to my children--these were camping, not shooting weekends. Those occasional lapses into lawlessness didn't worry me (although they probably should have). I was simply applying the Scout motto, "Be Prepared," for possible encounters with two-legged predators.

Ken Turner puts the pocket-size Kahr PM9 through its paces. To simulate close combat, guns were targeted at just seven yards. With 115-grain DPX Cor-Bon loads, the 16-ounce Kahr delivered four-inch groups.

I didn't take concealed carry seriously at first because it's still perfectly legal to walk the streets of most Utah cities with a holstered handgun at your hip. Provided the gun is safely unloaded, you're theoretically within your legal rights. Notice I said "theoretically." Stroll through downtown Provo or Salt Lake City so armed, and I guarantee you won't escape the notice of the local constabulary.

As a bonus, a concealed carry permit also offers financial incentive. Manufacturers regularly loan me guns to test and report on. Each time a gun arrives at my FFL holder, the required background search costs me a small fee--and those fees soon mount up. The search is waived for concealed carry permit holders. I did the math and quickly discovering how foolish I'd been to ignore this money-saving bonanza.

(Left) The author found the S&W Model 60 fairly easy to control with 125-grain .357 Magnum loads. Groups of 2 1/4 inches at seven yards made it a contender. (Right) The Model 340's ferocious recoil resulted in seven-inch groups. Light weight has its price.

Waiting for my permit to arrive in the mail, I suddenly realized something. Nearly all the handguns I owned were designed primarily for hunting. Precious few were suited to concealed carry. My Thompson/Center single-shots obviously didn't qualify, while the revolvers in my collection were mostly chambered for bigbore deer and bear rounds like the .44 Magnum, .454 Casull and .475 Linebaugh. These heavy, large-framed guns with their 6- and 8-inch barrels weren't something I wanted to tote on my hip every day. Concealing them would present serious problems.

I actually own some pistols designed for self-defense--a handful of .45 ACP 1911-style guns and a diminutive North American Arms .380 ACP Guardian autoloader. Two of these guns were worth considering. The .380 Guardian got the nod because of its diminutive size and modest 18-ounce heft, while a Kimber Compact Aluminum made the list because I have a fondness for 1911 .45s. At 28 ounces, this gun was pleasingly light compared to the other 1911s I owned. I also liked the serious punch .45 ACP loads delivered. The Kimber Compact Aluminum was a forerunner to Kimber's current Pro Carry series.

With those as my "seed guns," I began looking for other concealed carry candidates to evaluate. The first pistol I requested for testing was a Glock Model 36--a compact, 22.4-ounce double-action autoloader in .45 ACP chambering. That big, battle-proven cartridge was a point in this gun's favor...

The full story can be found at;

- Janq
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