Oct 25 2011
One of the most obvious considerations when choosing a gun to carry concealed is the size and conceal-ability. A lot of people get stuck on this one aspect though. Instead of getting creative on conceal methods, they settle for a less than desirable size and caliber because the smaller gun is much more comfortable to carry.
There are a few factors to consider when we talk about size.
The Mental Factor:
90% of every battle is mental. If that’s the case, then we should do whatever we can to diminish the enemies fight by handicapping their mental capabilities. How do we do this? Through intimidation.
According to “Handgun Wounding Factors And Effectiveness” one of the FBI’s training materials:
“Psychological factors are probably the most important relative to achieving rapid incapacitation from a gunshot wound to the torso. Awareness of the injury (often delayed by the suppression of pain); fear of injury, death, blood or pain; intimidation by the weapon or the act of being shot; preconceived notions of what people do when they are shot; or the simple desire to quit can all lead to incapacitation even from minor wounds. However psychological factors are also the primary cause of incapacitation failures.“
– Special Agent Urey W. Patrick of the FBI Firearms Training Unit
Ease of Use
If you’ve ever shot a pocket pistol, you understand that they are generally harder to shoot than their larger counterparts. A larger/heavier gun shooting the same ammunition that’s being shot through a pocket pistol, will have less perceived recoil. Newton’s laws of motion state that “for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction”. The heavier gun is going to absorb the recoil, making less displacement of sight alignment when a shot is fired. This will make it easier to get your sites back on target quicker.
Another plus to the larger handguns is the longer sight radius. Sight radius refers to the distance between the front and back sights. The smaller the gun, the smaller the sight radius. You will notice that it is easier to shoot more accurately with a longer sight radius. This is one of the reasons for the popular saying “always bring a long gun (rifle) to a gun fight”.
The Design of the Gun
Most pocket pistols are not designed to combat specs. While you don’t need combat grade gun to get the job done, it sure can make the job easier. If you are planning on continuing your training and working on defensive combat tactics and shooting, I recommend getting a combat XDm 45 (Photo credit: Jon Winters)grade gun. There are many out there that meet this criteria, do some research and find the ones that fit your personal needs/desires.
I don’t usually like talking about scenarios. The reason for this is because every situation is different and I’m not a fan of playing the “what-if” game with anyone other than my closest friends and family. However, these are some very general scenarios, and I think they help illustrate my point.
Let’s say you are carrying your little Kel-Tec P-3AT (.380 auto, 6 +1 round capacity, 3.8 in sight radius) because it is so light and fits perfectly in the front pocket of your favorite pair of skinny jeans. All of a sudden you are approached by three men (ok, gangsters). They come towards you from three different angles: one directly towards your front (gangster #1), one from your left side (gangster #2) and one from your right (gangster #3). You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that you are in immediate fear for your life. You draw your weapon (that little Kel-Tec P-3AT) and point it at “gangster #1”. At this point you will more than likely start to get tunnel vision. You can feel your pulse beating like crazy in your trigger finger and a surge of adrenaline electrifies your whole body. You try to focus your dominant eye on the little iron sliver of a front sight but your brain has your eye focus locked on “channel bad guy”. Your mind races through the possibilities. You have very few rounds to spare: basically two shots per bad guy. They better ALL be well placed in order to stop the assailant. And… oh crap! Will your quickly expanding .380 defensive round even make it through their three-foot deep puffy down coats and whatever else they have on?
STOP! Let’s take a step back and jump into the gangster’s shoes for a moment:
“Gangster #1” sees something in your hand. It is hard to see considering that your hand is wrapped around 90% of the object. He is a bit thrown off when he realizes he is looking down the barrel of your gun, but hardly feels threatened when he realizes that the bore is tiny (hence a small round) and the gun is tiny (hence the short range of the weapon and a shorter sight radius making it much harder to be accurate with). He stays out of the “easy shooting” range of your gun and knows that while your focus is on him; his buddies will jump you from your sides and seize control of your gun.
The situation is almost exact to scenario #1; except today you decided to carry service model sized Springfield XDM 4.5 in. (.45 caliber, 13 + 1 round capacity, approximately 8 inch sight radius). Yes, you had to forfeit that super tight blouse and go with your slub tee to conceal this effectively but you understand that the sacrifice may mean the difference between life and death some day. All of a sudden you are approached by three men (oh that’s right, gangsters). They come towards you from three different angles: one directly towards your front (gangster #1), one from your left side (gangster #2) and one from your right (gangster #3). You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that you are in immediate fear for your life. You draw your weapon (this time your service model sized XDM .45) and point it at “gangster #1. At this point you will more than likely start to get tunnel vision. You can feel your pulse beating like crazy in your trigger finger and a surge of adrenaline electrifies your whole body. You try to focus your dominant eye on that big front sight but your brain has your eye focus locked on “channel bad guy”. Your mind races through the possibilities. You have 13 rounds plus one in the chamber. That’s basically 4 shots to stop each bad guy. However, because your barrel and sight radius are longer, your accuracy is at a much higher advantage than with your little “pocket gun” that you almost brought. You are confident in the outcome of this situation.
STOP! Let’s take a jump into “Gangster #1″‘s shoes again:
In this scenario he sees you pull your “giant gun” and is completely shocked because he would never have guessed a lady to be carrying such a large gun let alone have such confidence with one. He looks down the barrel and spoils his panties at the thought of such a large hole being shot into him. He hears what he thought was going to be his victim screaming “Keep your hands where I can see them! Get on the ground!” and spoils himself all over again. His friends don’t know what to think and book it out of there before you start shooting at all of them.
Don’t sacrifice size, reliability and accuracy for ease of carry. Figure it out. Do what you need to in order to carry and conceal the largest caliber handgun you can shoot consistently with combat accuracy.
Next article in this series: CHOOSING A CARRY GUN – PART 3: RELIABILITY