So You've Decided to Conceal Carry
Good for you!
But have you considered all the aspects of your decision? There are a lot of choices to be made before you carry.
Ask yourself this question, "Am I mentally prepared to use a firearm to protect myself or others?"
Using a firearm might involve taking a human life. Are you mentally prepared to do that? (And in what circumstances?) Does your moral code allow you to shoot and possibly kill someone that is trying to kill you? How about your religious faith?
If you can’t answer these questions with an absolute yes, then you're not ready to carry.
Every state has laws regarding concealed carry and use of deadly force. They differ from state to state. They also change quite regularly. So it's important to keep up with your state’s laws. And remember, some local laws may differ from the state laws (like NY City).
Basic Use-of-Force laws are similar from state to state, but you must know in what circumstances your state allows you to use deadly force. For instance, my state, Michigan, allows deadly force to prevent death, to prevent great bodily harm or to prevent sexual assault.
Don’t rely solely on a mandatory training program for legal info. Do your own research. Your state’s laws are easy to find online. Take the time to read them. If you have questions ask your state's Attorney General.
In addition to any state mandated training (which is never enough to make you a gun fighter), take training from different instructors as often as you can afford. Ask around to find reputable training programs
Each instructor I’ve had has added to my knowledge and skill in some way. A quality instructor won't just teach you firearm safety, function of your gun, and marksmanship. They'll also teach and demonstrate the fine points of how to improve your performance.
Choosing Your Carry Gun
The only perfect gun is the one that is right for you!
Visit some gun ranges and rent different guns. Your primary concern is that it is a reliable firearm that you can count on in a life or death situation.
One size does not fit all. Hands come in all sizes. So do guns. Not all handguns will fit your hand. You need be able to get a comfortable grip with one hand. Then, without altering your grip, you need to be able to manipulate the safety (if equipped), slide lock, and mag release. Make sure you can pull back the slide and lock it to the rear.
Small, lightweight guns are easier to conceal and more comfortable to carry. But they're more difficult to shoot accurately. And they hold less ammo; 5 or 6 rounds. Larger, heavier handguns are a lot easier on the felt recoil. And they may hold up to 20 rounds of ammo. But they may be difficult to conceal.
I suggest that you use the biggest caliber that you can shoot accurately, while shooting rapidly. For most people that I have worked with, that is a 9mm.
You must be able to control the recoil of the gun in order to shoot accurately AND rapidly.
There are many factors involved in recoil control, but for this discussion, it’s simply a matter of size of ammunition vs. size of handgun. A 13 oz. handgun shooting a small .380 may have much more felt recoil than a 2.5 lb handgun shooting .45 ACP. This is one reason why you need to “try before you buy."
Accuracy requires you to use the sights of your gun. So take a close look at the type of sights available. Iron sights may be adjustable or not, the front sight may be a different color than the rear sight and in different configurations. Or you may (if you have old eyes like mine) decide that a red dot optic is a better choice.
Don't Cheap Out on Your Holster
How will you be carrying your concealed firearm? On your hip? Off body (purse, briefcase, etc.)?
I recommend carrying in a quality holster attached to your body. I do not recommend off body carry.
Do some research before buying a holster. There are outside-the-waistband holsters attached to your belt, inside-the-waistband holsters (usually attached to your belt), ankle holsters, belly band holsters, and shoulder holsters.
If you attach it to your belt, make sure your belt is one that is sturdy enough to hold the holster snugly in place.
Don’t cheap out on either your holster or belt; they’re almost as important as the firearm.
The type of holster is really up to you and your lifestyle/wardrobe. But they all should have these features: trigger guard that completely protects the trigger from being pulled while in the holster, sturdy enough to allow one handed re-holster capability, securely holds your gun in place while running and jumping around, and made of a material that won’t rip, break or separate when pulled on.
(If you choose to open carry at some point, make sure your holster has a retention system to prevent others from taking your gun.)
Related Post: "Let Your Gun be Your Constant Companion"
You're not Done Yet...
So, now you're ready to take on the bad guys, right? Nope.
Now it’s time to practice so you can become confident and competent. Make a commitment to go to the range on a regular basis.
Every time you go to the range, have a game plan. Work on something specific from your training. Don’t just go and blast away at paper.
The practice that gives you the best bang for your buck is dry practice you can do at home. Make sure all ammo is removed from the firearms and stored in a different room. Always set up your “range” with a safe backstop just in case. Buy a few dummy rounds (snap caps or other brands) so you can work on several skills (reloads, malfunction drills etc.). Dry practice at home is cheap, convenient and the most beneficial type of practice you can do (especially when you’re just starting out).
Related Post: "The Logic of Carrying a Self Defense Firearm"
There is a lot to consider when it comes to conceal carry. But if you truly want to be able to protect yourself and loved ones, if you want to join the growing number of responsible concealed carry gun owners, then take these tips seriously.
Welcome to the club. Congratulations!
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