Everyone who carries has a preference in their carry gun; some people are fans of 1911s, some people love Glocks, etc. What makes a good carry gun for me may not make a good carry gun for you, people are different sizes/have different size hands, modes of carry, etc.
I did get an email from a reader asking me why I carry revolvers and DA autos pretty much exclusively. Instead of replying back, I’ll explain what criteria I use to select a good carry gun, in the order that they matter to me.
- Reliability: That’s factor number one. A gun I’m going to carry has to absolutely go bang every time I press the trigger, I don’t want to sit there wondering in the back of my head “if I need this, will it shoot?”
- Ease of function: I don’t like manual safeties. They annoy me. I really hate grip safeties. If I’m drawing from concealment against a threat, the fewer manual steps I have to take with my firearm to get into the fight, the happier I am. That’s actually my biggest dis qualifier for 1911 style guns, the grip safety combined with the manual safety are two big strikes against the platform for me.
- Ease of carry: Clint Smith says that guns should be comforting, not comfortable. I agree in that the purpose of carrying a defensive firearm isn’t to look fashionable, but at the same time if a gun isn’t comfortable to carry for long periods of time, I’m going to leave it at home. It’s got to carry well in a variety of methods for me to use it.
- Shootability: I love made-up words, and shootability is one of my favorites. It’s referring to the traits of a gun that make it easier to place accurate hits on target. The trigger pull, sight radius, grip angle, felt recoil, etc. Shootability is my last criteria in selecting a defensive handgun. A gun with a high shootability score is a Ruger 22/45, which isn’t a great carry gun. My Taurus .45 ACP Tracker has a much lower shootability score, but it’s one of 3 guns I carry on a regular basis.
A lot goes into picking a carry gun; when people ask me for advice the first thing I say is “carry the most powerful gun you can use with accuracy and consistency”. If the biggest cartridge you can handle is a .32 ACP, then get a great .32 ACP and carry that. It still beats a pointy stick in the eye.
In case you’re wondering, my regular carry guns are a Beretta 92D Centurion DAO 9mm, a Taurus Tracker w/2 inch barrel in .45 ACP, and then for those rare days when I can’t conceal either of those guns, a Walther P22 in .22LR loaded with 60 grain Aguila SniperSubSonic rounds. Prior to getting the Beretta 92D, I carried a Taurus PT92, which is now my full time nightstand gun. The PT92 and the Walther are both DA/SA autos, which I carry safety off with the hammer down on a live round.