This article is sure to generate a ton of emotion and that is a good thing. A “top ten” list of anything is going to be helpful to some, controversial to many and just plain flat out wrong to others. No matter what I put on the list or where I may rank it, someone is certain to tell me I’m right just as someone else is certain to tell me I’m wrong. (That’s what makes America great)!
So, here we go.
As far as I’m concerned, in order for a concealed carry gun to be effective it must meet certain criteria. A CCW gun must:
4. Be simple to use. Point and click, squeeze and bang. No levers, locks, bells or whistles. Nothing that makes you think beyond pulling a trigger. This is a gun. It should be simple and you should not have to worry about running a “system” when your life or the lives of your loved ones are on the line and immediate action is required.
3. Power. All guns are powerful. Don’t believe me? Stand in front of your little 22 LR and have someone pull the trigger. What? I didn’t think so. This is one area where I will challenge conventional wisdom. No one wants to get shot…by ANY gun of ANY caliber, especially criminals. Yes, you should always carry the largest and most powerful caliber that you can comfortably carry and shoot…if that happens to be a .22, good for you and BAD for whoever is on the receiving end!
2. Reliability. You can carry the coolest custom gun in the world but if your choice of handgun doesn’t go POW when your booger hook squeezes the bang switch or the shot goes wide left like a pee-wee football field goal attempt, it is worthless. Your gun MUST be reliable and by reliable I mean reliable right out of the box!
1. Comfort. This is another area where I will also challenge conventional wisdom. We’ve all heard the words that a gun isn’t meant to be comfortable, it is meant to be comforting. That is old school. Nowadays, it can be both. It is no longer necessary to lug around a 2 lb. hunk of steel with only 7 rounds. (Unless you want to)
Here’s my personal list of top ten favorites:
10. Glock Model 36
I used to carry this gun religiously. In fact I pulled it on two miscreants who tried to approach my vehicle at an intersection in November of 2002 on a balmy Tampa, Florida morning at 6:20 am. I never had to fire a shot. Thank God. Slim and sleek, the 36 makes carrying the .45 ACP just a tad bit more comfortable.
9. Kel-Tec P3AT
The 380 is not my optimum choice of self-defense caliber. Having said that and following the criteria above (#3 in particular), the Kel-Tec P3AT is an excellent choice for meeting all 4 criteria and I have carried it on and off over the years. Why is the Ruger LCP or Taurus TCP not on this list? They are, you just can’t see them because the Kel-Tec P3AT is kind of like the grandfather of the .380 craze. Consider it to represent all of the above in the small framed, polymer 380’s.
8. Kahr PM9
The Kahr PM9 is a great little shooter, has perfect weight and balance and it’s a Kahr, for crying out loud. It’s as reliable as the day is long, doesn’t need any fluff and buff and it feels good in my hand. Maybe it doesn’t fit in yours. If not, replace number 9 here with whatever you think works best!
7. Glock Model 19
Sticking with the 9mm as we work our way through the list, the Glock 19 is a perfect fit of beautiful, ugly, fit and balance. This 9mm is a wonderful shooter with easily manageable recoil and excellent shot follow-up. No wonder it’s one of the most popular CCW guns in the world.
6. Springfield XD Compact .45
I like this gun. Smaller frames can make the .45 ACP feel like a real bull coming out of the gate but to me this gun handles the power of the formidable .45 cartridges very well. It’s a great match of balance and power in a medium package that is extremely accurate outside the normal defensive range of 7-10 feet.
5. Smith and Wesson M&P full size .40 S&W
I LOVE these S&W M&P’s. I’ve owned and carried the 9mm and the .40 in both compact and full size frames and I gotta tell ya…the reason this gun outshines other manufacturers of similar size and caliber is the grip. The interchangeable back-straps on a gun this size, for someone like me with smaller hands make shooting this gun a joy! It’s a natural pointer and it just plain fits my hand.
4. Glock Model 22 Gen4
Not a small gun by any stretch but the new Gen 4 grip fits my hand perfectly. This gun rides with me whenever I am able to carry a full size handgun. Today’s holster designs enable carry of this (or any other) larger frame gun quite comfortably either inside or outside the waistband. The proven stopping power of the .40 cal make this a great choice for a full size CCW gun.
3. Glock Model 23
Slightly smaller than the model 22, the Glock 23 is a “hands down” winner in my opinion. Not to mention it has that loveable Glock “pretty and ugly” thing going on that I like so much and for me is a perfect fit for “anytime” carry.
2. Smith and Wesson Model M&P 340 CT revolver (.357/.38 Special +P)
I have carried this gun for two years. This little snub-nosed revolver is the finest J-Frame ever made. 357 Magnum or .38 S&W Special +P, the choice is yours. For me, the .357 is brutal and flat out no fun to shoot. Even in the .38 this gun bites BUT it is manageable, accurate to some distance with a little practice and enough of a deterrent to stop a threat. Scandium Alloy frame and Crimson Trace grips with the XS Tritium sights make this gun an absolute “must have”. Pricey, but worth saving for!
1. North American Arms NAA .22 Magnum Mini-Revolver
What, are you serious? You bet I am. A concealed carry handgun does you absolutely NO good if it isn’t carried! The NAA .22 Magnum Mini-revolvers eliminate every possible excuse you can think of for not carrying some type of personal defense gun on your person at all times. It fits ALL possible attire from a bathing suit to full winter garb. No, the .22 magnum is not my favorite choice of defensive caliber however the NAA .22 Magnum Mini in my pocket under ANY possible scenario certainly beats the hell out of my main carry gun in the glove box or safe. In fact, this gun should be on your person even when you ARE carrying your main gun. Never again do you have an excuse to be unarmed…ever. Everyone should own one of these.
So there you have it. As I’ve mentioned on the air many times…I don’t want to get shot with ANY caliber and logic dictates that any caliber in your pocket is better than NO caliber in your pocket.
Rule number one to carrying a gun for self-defense is to carry a gun. Whatever method of carry you choose, for whatever lifestyle you lead, you have a responsibility to your community, your loved ones and yourself to be armed and capable of defending yourself and your family.
Whatever you choose to carry, remember to carry on, carry often and carry everywhere!
Great Article Mark! Please visit Armed American Radio and listen in. You will really enjoy a show dedicated to our Second Amendment. Mark and Kathy Jackson just wrote a great book and you can check it out by clicking here Lessons from Armed America.
Thanks – Mike P.