For someone looking to buy their first concealed carry firearm it can be quite daunting. Going up to the gun counter at the local sporting goods store can be intimidating if you don’t know much about guns. This was me when I started looking for my first gun. I didn’t grow up around guns. In fact, I only went shooting a couple times before I turned 21. So when I wanted to buy my first gun I felt a little nervous going to the counter and asking to handle a gun.
So what do you look for in your first concealed carry pistol? First, do a little research before you go to look at guns. Do you want a revolver or a semi-auto? What caliber do you want? Do you want a full size pistol or some sort of compact or sub-compact pistol? It helps if you have 2 or 3 guns that you want to “compare.” This can be models or brands. Glocks vs. Springfield Armory XD series is a common comparison because both guns are very similar. Some popular 9mm semi-automatic guns are Glock 17, 19, or 26 (or the different sizes of the Springfield XD series). They are basically the same gun except for the size–the 17 is a full size 9mm pistol, the 19 is a compact 9mm, and the 26 is a sub-compact 9mm. By holding and handling all three you can get a feel for how you could conceal each one. You are looking for something that is comfortable in your hand. Weight, length of barrel, length and width of the grip, location of the magazine release and slide lock are all important factors. Operate the pistol to see how you handle the gun. If you have a couple guns in mind that you want to compare it makes it easier and keeps it pretty simple. You might have to take several trips to the gun shop (or several shops in my case) to hone down what you finally decide on but it’s worth the trips.
If you know how you would like to conceal the firearm (ankle, shoulder, inside the waistband, outside the waistband, etc.) you can get a feel for how well a particular gun might feel. If you don’t know how you are going to carry, imagine carrying that gun in each of those locations.
We recommend heading out to the range after you narrow down your search to 2 or 3 different guns. A lot of ranges will let you rent guns and you can see if they have the ones you are looking to buy. Shooting is a whole different ballgame than just holding a gun. It will really give you an idea of how you handle the gun.
Remember–when they hand you a firearm pull the slide back and check to make sure that the chamber is empty–AND never point a firearm at anyone. Even if you know it is not loaded. This is all-to-often ignored in guns shops/stores. If you want to aim the firearm then point it at the ceiling in the corner of the store so you are pointing away from all people. Some gun stores even have small targets in a top corner for you to aim at.