Defensive Handgun Selection Part I: The Every Day Carry Gun

The handgun remains the primary defensive firearm for the civilian invested in personal protection.  A dedicated defensive long gun, or several, belong in the arsenal, but the handgun is the tool that provides the most immediate access and fastest deployment in the face of an emergency.  Even for home defense, where a staged long gun may well serve a role, the handgun provides significant advantages as a first line of emergency response, facilitating faster deployment and more freedom of movement, should you need to move about the home.

I am diametrically opposed to having what is referred to as a “carry rotation” in which an individual carries many different handguns just for the sake of variety.  Using different guns that serve different purposes is one thing, but jumping between different guns that serve the same purpose does nothing but decrease familiarization with this life saving tool.

With that said, I submit that most concealed carriers need at least two carry guns: a primary EDC gun, as well as a small, deep concealment gun.  We should strive to carry a significant defensive pistol when possible, so the inevitable need for a smaller option to accommodate concealment in less permissive circumstances arises.  A third handgun that is also useful for many is a dedicated home defense pistol.  Obviously, your EDC gun might be your home defense gun, but having a staged house pistol, perhaps most appropriately kept in a quick-access safe in the bedroom, might make sense for your situation.    Therefore, this is the first of a three-part series in which I will address selecting and readying these three handguns:

This first installment will look at the selection of your primary EDC pistol:

Your EDC gun should be your primary defensive tool.  When selecting it you will need to find a balance between a gun that you can carry concealed in most circumstances, but a gun that you can fight with, should you need to.  For many people only a small deep-concealment gun might work for them on a daily basis, but most people can carry more gun than they realize if they put thought and experimentation into it.

I have been outspoken in my encouragement to carry a double-stack pistol.  A full-size or compact version of the double-stack families of guns made by the major manufactures serve as the fighting handguns of the contemporary age.  Think Glock 17, 19, and 26.  Think Smith and Wesson M&P Full Size or Compact.  Think the Sig P320 variants.  Even the compact or sub-compact members of these lines take the full size magazines, thus offering excellent capability in small packages.

Just as an example, my EDC gun for the past several years has been the Glock 26.  Before that I carried a Glock 19 for many years.  I found that I did not give up that much in performance with the 26, yet even with the Magpul 12 round magazines that I use for it the 26 conceals significantly easier than a 19, for myself.  Therefore, the Glock 26 has proven the gun that I can conceal in the majority of circumstances, yet it is also a gun that a can really fight with, should the worst come to pass.  While I use 12 round magazines in the gun, I carry a spare 15 rounder for it, or even a spare 21 round magazine for it, on occasion.  Therefore, in my case, this gun proves the best balance of concealment and capability I have yet found.

Some people may not be comfortable with anything smaller than a full-size service pistol.  Some people may have a hard time making even a compact double-stack like the Glock 26 work.  For a primary EDC gun I hesitate to suggest carrying anything less than at least a single-stack gun chambered in 9mm, like the Glock 43 or the Smith and Wesson Shield.  The higher-capacity, yet still very tiny, Sig P365 is also a good contender here.  I find stepping up to the larger, but still quite concealable, guns like the Glock 26 or Smith and Wesson M&P Compact offers greater shootability, capacity, and capability.

Whatever you choose,  understand that your EDC gun, as the defensive weapon you carry most of the time, is the one you are most likely to need in an emergency.  Therefore, find a balance between something that can conceal most of the time, but something you would be confident in should you need to defend yourself or your loved ones with it.  Now in the 21st Century the outlier events we witness more often see attacks conducted by multiple and heavily armed, and perhaps armored, attackers.  While not common compared to more average street crime, such incidents happen.  A serious, shootable, and higher capacity handgun is in order here, and I encourage carrying one if you are able to do so.  Full size or compact double-stack autos rule the day should you actually need the gun for its intended purpose.

In part two of this series we will discuss selecting a deep concealment gun for use when your EDC gun simply won’t work.

In part three of this series we will discuss selecting and setting up a dedicated home defense pistol.

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