Concealed carry is full of surprises. Here are a few things nobody told you before you started carrying.
I realized I've been carrying now for a decade. To some, that's beginner speak, but for me, I've been carrying as long as I've legally been allowed to. In that time, I've learned a couple of things about concealed carry, spent a lot of money on the endeavor, and even seen a few fads come and go. Here are five things I've learned that no one told me about concealed carry.
Prior to obtaining a concealed carry permit, my handgun shooting involved duty-sized handguns. Big, full-size revolvers and automatics that filled your hand and ate recoil up. When I moved to smaller subcompact pistols, I realized I had no idea what I was getting into.
My groups were all over the place and looked more like shotgun patterns than handgun groups. Little guns snap and kick, with some leaving you feeling like you got an overzealous high five. Their sights are minimal, the grip is tiny, and you're left feeling silly.
In reality, small guns take lots of practice and training. They also require you to keep practicing and training to keep yourself proficient with your small handgun. For concealed carry, I moved away from micro 380s and settled on the SIG P365 as my small gun of choice. I think P365, Hellcat, and Glock 43 sized guns are just perfect for concealed carry.
A good concealed carry pistol costs anywhere from 400 to 700 bucks. Believe it or not, once you start your concealed carry journey, you'll learn the gun was only a small investment. Off the bat, you'll need the gun, a quality belt, and a quality holster. From there, you'll need high-quality defensive ammunition, which costs a lot more than practice ammo because it is engineered differently and works better for self-defense.
Be prepared to invest beyond your firearm. A concealed carry gun is a great start, but it never ends there. You might accessorize with a light, laser, optic, or better sights. Don't forget the continual cost of training ammunition, range fees, and paying professional instructors to help you improve. (Check your ego at the door. Everyone needs professional instruction. The best instructors take classes, too.) It adds up quickly, and before you know it, the cost of the firearm will be dwarfed by the cost of everything else. Don't worry though, you'll enjoy the journey, even when it's a little costly.
This is a universal rule that applies to most things in life. Why people forget it when it comes to guns and gear, I have no idea. Reliable firearms cost money, and when people settle for a subpar firearm, my mind is blown. Concealed carry exists so you can defend your life. Why someone would ever skimp out on a high-quality gun blows my mind.
Beyond that, holsters, belts, ammunition, and more cost money. A cheap belt paired with a universal nylon holster is a recipe for disaster. Invest in a quality, American-made holster and belt from a reputable company.
The same goes for training. Some instructors are better than others, and you want a qualified instructor teaching you how to use a defensive handgun. Different instructors have different lanes, and that's perfectly fine. The guy teaching basic handgun might not be the most qualified to teach defensive shooting skills.
Do you know how many places ban the carrying of firearms? Well, once you start on your road to concealed carry, you'll figure it out. Schools, post offices, government offices in general, as well as anti-2A businesses don't want you to carry your firearm in their building or on their premises.
So what are you supposed to do when you have to renew your license, and the DMV can legally prohibit you from carrying. Locking your doors and stashing your handgun in your glove box is silly. This makes your car a loot box. Instead, purchase a small vehicle safe that can attach to your vehicle via cable or mounting system. Leaving a firearm unsecured in your vehicle makes you a dolt. Do you leave the gun at home in the safe? Or do you invest in a vehicle safe to protect your gun while you take care of your business?
Obviously, know the law and make sure you are parking in a place where you can legally leave a firearm in your vehicle. For example, it is illegal to have a firearm, loaded or unloaded, on post office property -- not just in the building but on the parking lot, too. It's a federal gun violation.
I have a bucket of holsters from my early days of concealed carry. I tried everything, and when I say everything, I mean I tried a lot of cheapish holsters. Some seemed great, then I wore them for half an hour or trained with them and realized I was an idiot.
I spent some money one day and finally purchased a high-quality holster. Then I kept purchasing high-quality holsters. It turns out a high-quality holster might be a little more expensive, but it's comfortable to wear, accessible and easy to draw from, safe, and durable for years of carry use.
Concealed carry allows us to defend ourselves from external threats. Being able to defend yourself makes you dependent on no one for your own protection. Like most things, the more you do it, the more you learn about it. Hopefully, if you're new to concealed carry, this article has saved you from some of the hard lessons I had to learn when it comes to packing a piece.
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.
He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.
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