By Larry Wegman, Range Safety Officer, FTA, Inc. Garner, NC
Which gun should I get? FTA has conducted concealed carry classes in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area since 1995 and at every class we hear that question. Several times! And so with the words of my old journalism professor ringing in my ears telling me ‘Don’t bury the lead,” here’s the answer. Get a gun that you can shoot accurately. That may sound simplistic and not actually clarify the issue so let me explain.
You’ve all probably heard the old saw, when asked why he carries a .45 the man answers, “because they don’t make a .46.” There are proponents who believe that you shouldn’t have a defensive handgun that doesn’t sport a caliber that doesn’t begin in a four. Well in the perfect world of bigger must be better; I guess that’s true. But here’s the equation that everyone must recognize and deal with – four well placed shots on target with a .22LR are more effective than four misses with a .45!
So in order of importance here, in my opinion, are the criteria for selecting a defensive handgun. Number one – get a firearm that you can be proficient with. Number two – get a firearm you will practice with. Practice will make you proficient. There’s no way to sugar coat it, some handguns are uncomfortable to shoot. If you find the recoil to be too harsh you are less likely to practice. Try to avoid this situation. Number three – get a firearm that fits your hand. Here in the Triangle, any reputable firearms dealer or instructor will help you with this process and the only way to do this is to put some guns in your hand. Number four – your firearm MUST be dependable. It is folly to get a sexy looking, cool, cheap, macho, fill in your own adjective gun if you can’t count on it to go bang every time.
Now with all that information swirling around here are the important questions to ask that only you have the answers to:
Will this firearm be for concealed carry purposes or will it be a home defense gun? Concealed carry will automatically narrow your choices. Home defense needs open the options to include full-sized handguns, shotguns, carbines and rifles.
Do you want a revolver or a semi-automatic pistol? They both have their advantages and their disadvantages. Do some research and ask your friends who shoot what they think.
What kind of sights do you want? Night sights? Adjustable?
Do you want to attach lasers or other tactical lights to your handgun?
If you choose a semi-automatic do you want a manual safety? A de-cocker? A magazine disconnect? A loaded chamber indicator? How many rounds do you want in the magazine?
Where will this firearm be at ALL times? If it’s not in a holster somewhere on your person, where is it? Is it secure so kids or bad guys can’t get at it? Can you get to it easily when you need to? Do you need trigger locks? The law in North Carolina requires the firearm owner be responsible for that firearm at all times.
So there you have it. You probably have more questions now than you had at the beginning but at least you know which questions are important and which answers will be important to you. Firearms Training Associates, Inc. is one of the oldest, most respected firearms training organizations in the Triangle and our instructors would be glad to help you find the answers to these questions.