What!!! You’ve Never Shot Your Carry Gun!?!

If you read my previous post discussing the first 50 rounds fired through my Dan Wesson ECO you will know that it malfunctioned 12 times within the first 30 rounds.  This only proves that you should qualify any gun you hope to conceal carry or use in defensive of a life.

I hope this does not apply to the readers of Gun Nuts, but some people actually buy a firearm for self-defense, throw it into a cheap nylon holster (separate issue), load it up with some ammo and proceed to carry it, secure in the belief it will act as a talisman and keep them safe.

The simple fact is you must vet any weapon slated for defensive purposes.  I actually know of a person that bought a Colt Defender in 45 ACP and shot one mag out of it before carrying it.  I was there and his target, which was shot at three yards, looked like he had thrown 45 caliber buckshot at it!  Fast forward 18 months and we did our CCW renewal together.  Out came the Colt Defender and a malfunction fest and an example of poor marksmanship followed.  It was all the ammo’s fault of course.  There was no way it was related to a lack of never applying lube to the weapon, not breaking it in or a total lack of fundamentals.

This brings up another point – sight regulation versus your carry load.  If you don’t test fire the gun with your chosen carry load, how do you know the sights are even remotely close to point of impact?


Look, as gun nuts (as in people who love guns, not this site) we often lose sight of the fact that many people who buy a weapon do so for protection and are not seeking a new hobby.  It is very easy in our rabid enjoyment of the hobby to scare them away as we suggest they should shoot weekly, or lead them to believe they must become some Rambo type person.  People seeking only protection do not need to become enveloped in the gun hobby any more than I need to get enveloped in golf.  We must temper ourselves with reality and try using some understanding (dare I say empathy) when trying to help them.  We need to ask ourselves, “Where they are coming from?”

Then and only then can we begin to offer meaningful suggestions; such as the need to break-in and prove the reliability of their chosen self-defense firearm.   The requirements of that break-in and reliability testing are not the scope of this article. That is wholly dependent on the gun type, the gun and ammo manufacturer, and the testing results, as trends develop.

The facts are simple – any gun can malfunction at any time, but it is better to have some confidence of past performance then be completely ignorant to the guns capabilities.

If you know of someone who falls into the “from the box to the concealed holster” camp, you might try to bring them around.  Just don’t expect them to become a gun nut.


  1. You wonder what results you could have gotten on the ECO if you had followed the Ammo Recommendations from Bill Wilson??

    Not that Bill Wilson knows what he’s talking about, right??

    I tested the ECO 9mm back a couple of years ago after doing a Photo Shoot for Intermedia Outdoors, We fired over 300 rounds without a Glitch, ASYM 115 JHP and 147 FMJ, NOT a failure!!

    On my EDC, I fire them when I get them and then every other month or so to blow the pocket Lint of the barrel, whether I need it or not.

    1. In this article I don’t recall wondering why the ECO jammed because I didn’t follow Bill Wilson’s recommendations. The reason is irrelevant to the meaning of the article, which is too test your CCW before you just strap it on.

      As for the ECO, it is called a review. By your own admission the ECO 9mm worked with both 115 (light) and 147 (heavy) grain ammo, but for some reason you believe I should only use 185 grain in the ECO 45 because Bill Wilson says so??????

      1. But you yourself said, Bill Recommended the 185, but you decided to run a Review with Ammo that those that know say doesn’t work..

        What kind of review us that??

        Been doing this for 22 years, and trust me, when doing a Review, being fair is something that actually matters!!

        I would never do a review on any firearm with Ammo that doesn’t really work well with said firearm.

        But then again, what do I know, right??

        1. “I would never do a review on any firearm with Ammo that doesn’t really work well with said firearm.”

          I’ve never shot an ECO, so how do I know what truly works well in it? Because of Bill Wilson’s word? I didn’t realize Bill Wilson’s blog was scientific law. Using that line of thought you shouldn’t have even bothered reviewing the 9mm ECO because LAV and Rob Pincus both preach that little 1911’s are unreliable.

          1. Not the work, but he has just a couple of years more experience than you on the 1911 Platform, unless you have owned Gun Company that I don’t know of or have made Winning 1911’s for the last 30+ years!!

            THAT is the resume of someone I would listen to!!

          2. It won’t let me reply directly.

            I do listen to Bill Wilson, but he is not God. His word is based on his experience, which is vast, but it is not gospel and I am not a fanboi of his. Whenever possible I seek out my own facts. I take a brain surgeons word at it because I can’t test his theory. I can however, test some firearm theories, just the same as I can test someones theory on the best fireant killer.

            I view most “facts” with a jaundice eye.

  2. I’ve never personally done the whole “get it, load it, carry it” thing (and I don’t really understand), but I’ve seen a bunch of the ‘box or two a year’ guys on the range… And I’ve noticed two things:
    1. Their score usually suck!
    2. They usually have no clues how to work any of the controls (safety, slide lock, trigger or sights).

    1. I whole heartedly agree, if we are talking about a carry gun. If you can’t find the money and time to put at least 100 rounds through your carry gun once every 6 months, maybe you shouldn’t be carrying?

      I actually had someone tell me, “my granddad only shot once a year during deer season and he was a dead-eye, so why do I need to practice?” That is probably true, but a)that was a rifle and b)he wasn’t getting assaulted.

      1. And c) That was his grandpa and not him

        My oldest son can shoot a pistol really good, my youngest son is much better with a pistol and shoots like he started from his first day on earth

        My oldest son can shoot a rifle and shotgun like he has done it from the day he was born, my youngest son can shoot a rifle and shotgun really good

        Everyone shoots different even if they are taught by the same guy and the few friends I have that didn’t grow up shooting or are just getting into shooting and they all listen and shoot often to get better except for one hard head

      2. Six months is a long time to go without shooting, trust me I’ve been there a few times and I lost a lot of edge. Now why would I repeatedly put myself in that position? I live in North Dakota and frankly December up here is not a nice time to only have outdoors ranges available!

        So is that ideal? No. But can it work? If it has to, I wouldn’t want to stack a few of those periods together. Also the effects can be some what blunted by doing things like dry firing.

  3. “If you can’t find the money and time to put at least 100 rounds through your carry gun once every 6 months, maybe you shouldn’t be carrying?”

    Really. So people suffering real financial hardship just have to leave themselves vulnerable to criminal predation, without the single most effective method of defending themselves. How AWESOME is THAT?

    Thanks, Scrooge, but no thanks.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    1. That was very tongue in cheek. I was directing that at a great many people who can’t find $30 for ammo but always seem to have money for concert tickets, craft beers, watches, tattoos, nice clothes, etc.

  4. You mean to tell me after spending $350 on a S&W SV9 I have to feed and care for this thing with ammo more than once a year!?!?!?!

  5. “we often lose sight of the fact that many people who buy a weapon do so for protection and are not seeking a new hobby. It is very easy in our rabid enjoyment of the hobby to scare them away as we suggest they should shoot weekly, or lead them to believe they must become some Rambo type person. ”

    WTF are you talking about? This totally goes against everything the training industry stands for. Shame on you, you’re going to get someone killed with this kind of talk!

    1. I got shamed by Claude Werner. I probably could have worded that better.

      Let me try to elaborate. If you read other articles I have written you will find I am not against training, I actually tell people to take it and wish I could take more. But there are also people I know that shy away from shooting their self defense gun or taking training because they see it as an all or nothing proposition. I have told people they need to actually practice with their carry guns and it falls on deaf ears with a common retort that they have no interest in shooting as much as I do. If you combine that sentiment with the people who reference grandpa being a dead-eye without shooting much or the fact an awful lot of people who defend themselves with firearms have very little actual training and it can become a tough sale.

      Too many times I have pushed the issue with negative effects; they simply blow me off and “prove me wrong” by not shooting. A better way is to ease them into the mindset rather then go all or nothing. Right or wrong, a large segment of the gun owning population will never take a self-defense class.

      1. I should have realized you don’t know me well and wouldn’t understand how facetious I was being. I apologize for the misunderstanding. We’re very much on track with each other about this topic.

        It was thoughtless on my part.

        1. Knowing that it makes total sense. Thanks for the clarification.

          When will society get a sarcasm font? I have a great need for one – everyday.

  6. I have actually done the “buy gun, load, and carry unshot” thing before, and I say that to my shame.
    I once toted a Kel-Tec mini 9mm for a few weeks before I finally got around to trying it out. After one shot at the range I carefully set the gun down, and enjoyed the painful tingling in my hand. The gun went bye-bye.

  7. Apparently I’ve shot my S&W 460V w/200gr FTX or 454 Casull 300gr ammo, more than many have shot their carry weapon . . . and I don’t generally CC the 460V.

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