By Mike Ware
As the owner of a small arms manufacturing business and custom work gun shop, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is “what weapon should I carry.” Frankly, this is tougher to answer than what you might think. Granted, we should all understand that carrying any weapon on the precept of self-defense certainly trumps not carrying a weapon, it becomes a little murky afterward. Soon after deciding to carry we need to narrow things a bit.
I usually start any question like this, whether it be a carry weapon question or any other firearm choice, with “what do you intend to do with the firearm 90% of the time?” This question is not only valid, but can help remove some of the ancillary and small uses of a firearm out of the scope of our inquiry. You would be surprised how we can gravitate towards the assumption that one single weapon can do it all, or more often, that it should do it all. While I could write a book on that subject alone we’ll stick to carry choices for the time being.
In this case we have chosen to utilize a weapon for self-defense. The easy part is over at this point, but we can keep this rolling if we’re honest and have a fair reflection of what and how we will use the weapon. For instance, women tend to wear a bit tighter and more body clinging clothes, which make some methods of carry a bit tougher, thus a smaller weapon size can be easier to conceal. While many women respond to these obstacles by using their purses, I generally recommend that if any other means of carry exist. Purses tend to be the first thing that get removed or otherwise stolen in many scenarios. If you couple that with the need to have the weapon on your person, purses have proven to be relatively poor choices. If you’re wearing a two piece around town, I suppose there are few options, but in most cases I would consider purse carry a last resort.
I prefer medium sized semi automatic weapons. We sell more Glock 19 pistols than nearly all of our other weapons in the category combined. This genre of weapon combines simplicity, capacity, lethality, and genuine ease of use across a broad spectrum of user’s hand size and body types. There are many in the market place that fall into this category, and most can be worn inside your pant waistband, outside your waistband covered by your shirt or blouse, or worn elsewhere on the body. I also like a weapon of this size because they can easily be used to practice and hone your skill. To be frank, I rarely see people at the range using a ‘pocket gun’ or the likes to burn through 300 rounds of ammunition. So a medium sized weapon is a safe bet. Also, a weapon of this type may end up filling a second role as a self defense weapon for the home as well. There is no reason it can’t. While I advocate for more than one weapon, sometimes for various reasons this simply does not or cannot happen.
If you aren’t able to conceal or utilize a weapon in the medium size range there are others you can consider. “Pocket rockets” as I refer to them fill a gap in the market place for which there are few substitutes. Small frame revolvers and small semi automatics are very popular. They are generally very light and relatively small. This combination of attributes comes at a cost few realize until their first range session. Unfortunately with small size and low weight comes some junior high school physics. Sir Isaac Newton was a pretty shrewd cat, and his Three Laws of Motion come into full play for us in weapon choices. It should go without saying that there is no practical sense in choosing a weapon lacking performance or power, or we’d be carrying daisies and the occasional mint sprig in our holsters rather than 5 to 15 rounds of fast and hot stuff. When we discharge a small weapon a great deal of the Newton’s 3rd law becomes clear. Now we have a reaction for our action of sending a round downrange at a high rate of speed and that of energy in motion. So we feel a lot more ‘felt recoil’ with small weapons. I try not to condemn these types of weapons as they do work, but I’m a firm believer in encouraging everyone interested to seek the highest level of training they can afford and withstand. Frankly, withstanding 300 rounds in a day’s course with a Ruger LCP would be darn tough. Tougher yet would be a nice little S&W airweight revolver in 357 magnum. Still, I would prefer folks have something like that than a cell phone and a prayer.
In summary, there is more than one way to skin a cat, but consider how you’ll carry your weapon, and consider what you can buy or use that will also allow you to use it and train with it. After all, God forbid you are thrust into a position you can’t escape, your life may just depend on it.