I often ask students various questions when they are considering carrying or already carry. Often many had never considered the question.
How do you determine which gun is going to be reliable, after all you are betting your life that thing will work when you need it most?
We get a lot of funny answers from this and I suspect the reasoning is that most people never even considered the possibility of a gun failing since almost all failures happen at a public range rather than in a gunfight. We also get a lot of gun forum answers and Ole Guys Tales.
I do not have an empirical method to tell you who make reliable guns as there are no reliable records so for us I had to consider who I could trust for information. I know the gun makers are not going to tell you about their failures, not good business, same with the gun sellers. I know that anyone who can post on gun forums is generally not a good source since ANYONE can post of forums and call themselves gun experts. Listening to what my great uncle Joe believes from over 120 years ago is also not going to be a good source. Lastly there are firearms instructors but since there are no hurdles to entry instructors are much like the gun forum guys unless you can get one who teaches a 100 plus days a year and sees a lot of gun failures.
So from all of that I looked at who bets their lives on the guns performing and do not care one iota what those guns cost. That left me with more or less just two sources, US Special Operations and the FBI. From there I came away with just two manufacturers. This of course is what we carry.
How many rounds are you going to carry?
Again, blank looks on faces. It seems that most believe they will never have to reload yet in the interviews I’ve done with citizens who have been in gunfights, THEY ALL ran out of ammunition. I like many used to just carry the magazine in the gun until I had an exchange with a FB friend who had been a detective in the Bronx. He had his gun and two magazines, a revolver with five rounds and an ankle semi. While chasing some bad guys he got into the fight and ran out of ammunition before the cavalry arrived. From that frightening experience I now always carry at least two spare magazines.
So let’s say we have to draw and shoot. We will shoot very quickly, perhaps emptying our first magazine in less than two seconds. SO ask yourself this, how long does it take a large man to fall to the ground? We’ve timed it, about two seconds and as we who study these things know, most bad guys are not lone wolves and come with a pack of help, think about the woman shooter in Las Vegas who shot Joseph Wilcox as he walked by her.
How are you going to carry daily?
Again we get a lot of interesting answers, the one most often quoted is they are just going to keep the gun in the glove compartment not actually carry it on them. I get a chuckle out of that. In researching the use of guns in self-defense by citizens we find that they happen more often in public parking lots than at businesses or home, and that they seldom happen when you are in your car. Here’s an empirical statement, if you need your gun more often than not it will be in the transition zone when you are moving from one place to another in public. If your gun is in the car you might be out of luck. And as a side note on the car storage thing, the second most often location for guns being stolen . . . in your car.
Additionally we get people who say they are only going to carry when they feel the need, as if they can somehow predict the future. My standard response is, did you wear your seat belt while driving today?
Carrying is a change of lifestyle, it is a mindset that says you refuse to become a victim or let others around you be victimized. It is not intended to be comfortable but I will guarantee you it is comforting to know you are armed.
What size of gun are you going to carry?
We see a wide variety of sizes. Most younger, stronger and healthier people carry full size guns, the size and weight does not bother them. Most active people who WILL carry daily pick compact sizes like the Glock G19/23 or the Sigs P229/239. Most clueless people show up with a micro-TINY subcompact in .380 to take a 500 round class. As an interesting note on my interviews with the gun fighting citizens, ALL had tiny revolvers in .38 or subcompact .380’s, ALL ran out of ammunition before the gun fight was over, ALL the bad guys gave up psychologically and ran away not a single one dropping at the site of the fight from gunshot wounds and all of the citizens received gunshot injuries. They ALL today carry larger .40 S&W caliber guns with extra ammunition and they take training and practice regularly. I guess getting shot in a gunfight when you are out gunned makes a person reconsider their carry options.
I carry three different sizes of guns, my favorite EDC is a full size gun, if I can hide it, and it is the one I am packing daily. I have a dress size gun; sometimes I have to dress for business rather than the range and I need a THINNER gun so I carry a single stack gun that tucks and conceals more easily. Finally, I carry a tiny subcompact chambered in 9mm, which is my minimum caliber, it tucks in nicely for appendix carry when I am riding my motorcycle where all the rest are harder to conceal.
Think of how you dress, carry the biggest gun you possibly can, carry extra ammo and carry daily.