Guns & Patriots

Choosing A Concealed Carry Gun

As a senior citizen, when you go to purchase your first defensive handgun for concealed carry, you may find yourself feeling nervous, confused, or “out of your element” at the gun shop. If this is what you experience, join the club! We’ve all been there and done that! After all, you’ve experienced a lot of things in your life, but this is a new experience for you. Know that this is where the value of a truly concerned and dedicated professional can shine through. That would be the gun shop sales person from whom you decide to buy your first gun, or second .

His or her role is to explain to you, in terms you can comprehend, with no condescension, the varieties of handguns available, and how they operate. It is important that you resist being seduced into believing that “cute”, “sleek”, “shiny”, or complicated, make for a better defensive weapon. Three key rules of thumb to keep in mind are: (1) Form should follow function. (2) Function follows from a quality firearm chosen wisely by an educated, well-advised consumer. (3) Function follows when you purchase a quality handgun from a knowledgeable and reputable firearms salesperson who cares about your needs, and takes the time to competently explain the gun and how to use it.

When you go to a gun shop or indoor range, do you see other happy senior citizen’s hanging around, looking at guns, shooting, and/or conversing about handguns, shooting and self-defense? Are the sales people friendly and helpful? On the other hand, if you go into a gun shop, and you see Bubba and his cousin Jethro, chewing tobacco and snickering at you, get out of there fast!

An ethical gun salesperson or firearms instructor wants to see you on a regular basis and to keep you as a customer or client, as he or she obtains satisfaction from observing you develop your performance skills with your chosen firearm/s. An ethical professional will never push you into buying a particular product. He or she will help you make a truly informed choice, which involves assessing the type of handgun you are most comfortable shooting, carrying and safely storing. He or she stays updated and honest with regard to the quality products on the market.

Try Before You Buy. I suggest that, when shopping for a defensive handgun, you find a range facility that other senior citizens frequent, that will let you rent different handguns, and that offers basic pistol, personal protection, and concealed carry classes taught by qualified, certified instructors. In such a senior citizen-friendly environment, you can best determine which type of handgun will best suit your particular needs, because you can try out different weapons andaccessories. It is always best to try before you buy.

The Choice Process. First, educate yourself by gathering information about the different types, makes and models of handguns available. Then, compile a list of your objectives based on your own personal attributes and needs, so that you can make an informed and personally appropriate selection of model and manufacturer. Remember that no one handgun is perfect for everyone, every situation, or for everyone’s pocketbook. A handgun can be a great equalizer, but because all handguns were not created equal, you must choose intelligently. If you do so, you will acquire a personal protection tool that you’ll be able to enjoy for many years, and then hand down as a family heirloom.

Essential Criteria For A Defensive Carry Gun

As we age, many of us tend to develop joint problems, arthritis, and hip, back and leg pain. Thus, a concealed carry gun riding on your hip, or in your pocket, that is too big and heavy, may place too much strain on your back, and it may also pull your pants down! Remember, as we age, gravity tends to pull us down enough, such that, sometimes, just carrying ourselves is a chore! So, think light and thin, which equals comfortable to carry concealed. However, also think about how you dress. Will the gun be easy to conceal?

Reliability. While the above criteria are important, we mustn’t sacrifice reliability and durability in a carry gun. Remember, if you are going to carry your handgun everyday, and practice with it, it must hold up! So, choose a handgun with a reputation for reliability.

Good Fit. Now, in choosing your carry handgun, you must be the judge as to whether the gun you’re considering provides a good fit for your hands. Does it point naturally? Is your trigger finger comfortably able to reach the trigger without your having to distort your proper grip?

Unless the gun is a point and shoot gun, are the sights usable? Can you see the front sight clearly with your corrective lenses on? Manageable Recoil. Is the gun comfortable to shoot? Is the recoil manageable? Seriously, if the gun is not comfortable to shoot, you will not shoot it, and then, you will not get your practice time in with the gun.

Controllable Trigger. Is the trigger controllable? That means not too heavy of a pull, but not too light either. Bottom line–does it feel right for you? That means, can you operate it without getting finger cramps, and conversely can you feel it when you press it? Can you repeatedly dry fire the gun without making figure eights with the front sight? Are you aware kinesthetically when you’ve pressed the trigger rearward far enough to cock and fire the weapon? Too light of a trigger spells, ACCIDENTAL DISCHARGE.

Accuracy. In your hands, the gun needs to be reasonably accurate when you shoot it at 10 yards and in. Is the gun forgiving of the arc of movement created by your hand tremor? Are you able to place accurate follow-up shots? Bad guys have a nasty habit of not going down after just one shot. Good second shot recovery is essential. You must be capable of delivering more than one nasty surprise to Mr. Bad Guy!

Simple, Easy, And Safe To Operate. Your defensive handgun should be simple, easy, and safe to operate. If it is an auto-loading pistol, is the slide easy to operate? Do you have the hand strength to be able to pull the slide all the way back to cycle a round into the chamber, or to clear the gun? Can you easily operate the slide stop/release lever to lock the slide back? Can your thumb reach and operate the magazine catch to drop the magazine? If you have a revolver, can your thumb reach and operate the cylinder release latch? Under stress, whatever fine motor skills you do have tends to fly away. So, Simple Is Good (SIG).

Easy To Maintain. Don’t choose a gun that’s difficult to field strip for routine cleaning and maintenance. The end result will be that you won’t maintain it, and it will eventually rot, or it won’t work when you need it! As we age, many of us develop arthritis, which makes it difficult to disassemble and reassemble mechanical devices with many, stubborn little parts.

Affordability. The gun should also be affordable to purchase and use. If you’re on a fixed income, you don’t want to have to sell your firstborn grandchild to afford the gun, or the ammunition for it! If practice ammunition is too expensive, then you may become reluctant to practice. Choose a handgun in a caliber for which there’s plenty of cheap, quality, target ammunition, and a good supply of affordable, defensive, jacketed hollow point ammunition.

So, What Handguns Fit The Bill? There are many excellent handguns that meet all of these criteria. Of these, several come to mind as worthy of recommendation for senior citizen concealed carry. They are: the .32 ACP, LWS Seecamp .32 and Kel-Tec P-32; the 9mm, Glock 26, Kahr Arms PM9 and MK9, and Sig Sauer P239; and the classic, lightweight, .38 Special, snub-nose, Smith and Wesson J-Frame revolvers. Each of these reliable, well-made handguns offers a low profile, concealed carry package that can provide discreet protection for the average senior citizen. No one but you will know you’re carrying until they need to know.

Editor’s Note:
Thanks to our friends at the United States Concealed Carry Association for this article. To know more about concealed carry please click here.

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  • gzigoris

    As a 71 year old concealed carry guy I prefer the 1911 compact for carry. It’s much easier to shoot than the smaller light weight Pistols. Bottom line is you have to have a gun that is reliable that you can hit your target with. I find that with a little extra weight the 45acp has lower recoil than my Keltec 3at and much easier to hold. If you own a firearm for protection remember the old addage “Practice, Practice, Practice”. That’s why they give us this Social Security check so that we can buy ammo and PRACTICE.

  • Gunowner

    The Ruger SR-9c would also fit nicely into this catagory. Good reliable firearm, fantastic trigger, accurate, great grip, great ergonomics, mild recoil, potent 9mm chambering, and most of all $100 to $200 dollars or more cheaper than the Glock 26, or SIG 239 which are both outstanding firearms in their own right. But if cost is a factor the SR9c may just be your cup of tea. Kel-Tec’s PF9 & P11 are also fair firearme and cheap but you pay for the light weight with increased recoil. Also the Kahr series of compact 9mm’s are good but again there is the weight/recoil factor in addition to the cost, new Kahr’s can cost as much as or more than a new SIG 239.

  • Dogbreath15

    I also carry a Kel-Tec PF-9. As a 76 year old man I need a carry gun that is light and thin. I have no butt so my pants come down when a heavy pistol is attached to my belt, inside the pants carry. My holster is a perfect fit for the Kel-Tec and it is carried in my front pants pocket. It is important to practice my draw under all circumstances. My experience with the Kel-Tecs goes from the .32 to the .380 and now the 9MM. The early guns had feeding problems but Kel-Tec smoothed them out at no charge. I feel the 9MM is a poor cartridge but it is far better than a .32 or a .380 at close range. Yes there is much recoil and if this bothers you than perhaps a heavier gun or a beefier grip may be best for you. I doubt that I will feel the recoil if someone attacks me or my family once the adrenalin is flowing. I wish there was a .40 cal or .45 cal that was as small and thin as the PF-9 but for now I will stick with my Kel-Tec PF-9. I have had an encounter with a bad guy and the mere presence of a gun stopped him from doing any harm.

  • Guest

    I vary my choice for C.C. between my Springfield 1911 Compact with 230 grain Hornadys and my Charter Arms .44 Special Bulldog with 200 grain Hornadys.

    Momentum = Mass X Velocity

    Crossbreed holsters.

    I’ve tried most brands, settled on Crossbreed.

  • Gunowner

    The Ruger SR-9c would also fit nicely into this catagory. Good reliable firearm, fantastic trigger, accurate, great grip, great ergonomics, mild recoil, potent 9mm chambering, and most of all $100 to $200 dollars or more cheaper than the Glock 26, or SIG 239 which are both outstanding firearms in their own right. But if cost is a factor the SR9c may just be your cup of tea.

    Kel-Tec’s PF9 & P11 are also fair firearms and inexpensive but you pay for the light weight with increased recoil. Also the Kahr series of compact 9mm’s are good but again there is the weight/recoil factor in addition to the cost, new Kahr’s can cost as much as or more than a new SIG 239. or some instances just about double what a Ruger SR9c will cost you.

  • DinkyDauDon

    As a 73 year old that’s been carrying for over fifty years, my favorite carry is the 1911. After all these years, it just feels right in my hand. I’ve got 3″, 4.25″ and 5″ models. Which one I carry on a given day depends on my mood. They are all carried the same way, iwb just behind the hip. Even after all these years, I still practice regularly.

  • classiclover

    Unfortunately, they have not invented the one I want. I want a P3AT in 12ga with the recoil of a 22lr. So until it’s been invented, I’ll stick with my Detective Special.

  • farkennel

    I agree with classiclover…to a point.I want a .700 nitro express with the recoil of a BB gun and the size of a snub nose .OK,I know it wont be cheap…BUT I WANT ONE!

  • jaggunslinger

    I am 72, and carry a Glock 32 six days a week for work by choice for a security job.
    for many years I carried a S&W mod 19. James

  • OIFVet06

    A .45 Colt Officer’s ACP most of the year. A .45 Springfield Armory 1911A1 during jacket weather. No frills, bells and whistles. Just stock models loaded with Remington or Federal 185 grain .45 JHP loads.

  • AlphaDog1

    I carry the Taurus Millenium Pro PT140, using a Blackhills side draw holster. Sits at my waist well hidden, and ready for use.

  • Wild Bill

    i carry a springfield armory xd9. it is the service model. 4″ barrel with a full size grip. right now i have speer gold dot 147 grain standard pressure rounds. it fits my needs.

    i also like crossbreed holsters. they are comfortable and allow me to conceal a full size pistol.

  • GoodOldBadGuy

    Would you take advice from a third party when picking someone to marry? I expect your answer is NO. The same thinking goes for picking a gun for personal defense. Unfortunately that’s where the problem starts, if you go to a gun shop and make the wrong choice YOU ARE MARRIED to the gun. Very few gun shops have guns that can be “loaned” before making a purchase.

    I recommend to my students that they find a gun club or local shooting place and make your dilemma known to the members or other shooters. In most cases you will get many suggestions that you should ignore and some offers to let you try a gun. If you are a new shooter there are two important steps to take before trying a gun. The first is to have the gun’s owner demonstrate the operation of the gun. If possible, they should include safe gun handling, rules of the range and the cleaning procedure. The second is equipment, i.e., eye protection, ear protection and a billed cap. Buying a good pair of electronic ear protection (these will allow for normal hearing but will take out the BANG!) is a one time investment that you will need every time you practice so don’t buy junk, if you do you will be replacing them later.

    If you a lucky enough to find someone willing to let you try their gun remember that some ammo is expensive. Use your judgment to determine if or how to compensate the gun owner.

    Certified Pistol Instructor
    Range Saftey Officer
    NRA life menber for 41 years
    NRA Endowment member

  • Stephen Erwin

    The Micro Desert Eagle fits well here. Well known for it’s accuracy and reliability, it is small, fires .380 ACP, and the name just sounds cool. Another gun worth looking at is the Taurus Judge. A very interesting and unusual choice, it is a somewhat large revolver, but concealable. It is chambered for .45 Long Colt, but has an extended chamber so it can hold .410 shotgun rounds as well without needing to change or replace any parts. Because it has a rifled barrel it is considered a handgun and not a shotgun so is legal to own without any special short-barreled shotgun licence. It is essentially a concealable shotgun. It has a lot of kick though, but I think it is worth looking at if you can handle it.

  • DHConner

    I spent a few bucks with Cylinder and Slide to have them shorten the barrel of a 629 .44 Mag Mountain Gun to where the slope of the ejector rod shroud meets the barrel, enabling use of the original ramp and front sight and saving the lettering on both sides of the barrel. Craig Spegel made a set of boot gips from a chunk of Pink Ivory, and C&S fitted them and did a complete job consisting of lots of litttle things inside and out, including bobbing the hammer. Loaded with 305 grain Cor-Bon’s it’s as vicious in recoil as a 10 inch .454 Casull. With 165 grain Cor-bon’s it’s as tame as a baby kitten. I had an FBI-cant custom holster and belt made for it, along with dump pouches. The inside thumb snap ensures that it can’t be just grabbed at will by anybody, and keeps it where it belongs if I should stumble or fall.

    What you carry your pistol in is as important as what you carry. If it’s not comfortable, no matter how light the gun, or heavy, you will be uncomfortable. My other carry is a wide body Springfield 1911 with two extra 15 round magazines. A total of 44 rounds of Remington’s 230 grain Golden Sabre, chosen by the FBI. Heavy? You bet. Enough to get the job done? I think so. I am an aging Keith/Cooper thinker: big, heavy bullets, excepting the light Cor-bons, which Cor-Bon tells me will completely penetrate the average man at the sternum.

    With respect to Dr. Eimer, expense comes down to “how much is your life worth”? Can you put a $ figure on it? Of the guns he lists, the S&W Model 60 2+” stainless .357 is the best of the lot. With over 150 years of history behind it, the revolver is the most reliable pistol made. Safe, simple, small, fairly light, and with the Remington 125 grain JHP it is, IMHO, by far the best choice for most people, male or female. The Remington .357 load has a long and distinguished record as a fight stopper. Or one could choose the Buffalo Bore 158 grain lead load, as has the FBI. And of course, there is still the paper-punchers favorite: the lightly loaded 148 grain lead wadcutter, which has little recoil and makes nicely cut neat little round holes to speed exsanguation.

    In any economy, good or bad, for an individual or a nation, trying to get by on the cheap with firearms that don’t have a reasonbly good showing over a long period of time, or has as has the AK-47, been proven beyond doubt, can be a choice that turns out to be a sad mistake. For practice and pot-shotting, any gun will do. But when TSHF, I don’t care what it costs-it has to be absolutely reliable, and other than the Single Action Army , a good quality double action revolver, a 1911, or the Hi-Power, there aren’t many guns that have been proven to earn serious claims to that status. You can eat out less often and save the money to purchase a quality revolver. But as of yet, I have not seen any amount of money that will bring the dead and buried back to life. Or does someone out there know something the rest of us should? If you do, let us in on it, please.

  • Hopalog_Cassidy

    “…when shopping for a defensive handgun, you find a range facility that other senior citizens frequent, that will let you rent different handguns…” Wow, you sure don’t live in New York State.

  • Nice_Cat

     I bought a chromed Colt .39 snub-nosed police special revolver back in 1985, I believe; but have never had to fire it and consequently never have.  Would this be a good self-defense weapon, or should I invest in something more modern?  Was thinking of taking gun-handling and safety classes, possibly renting other models to try, but think I may as well also try the revolver I already have since I will probably not sell it.  I would want to get a concealed carry permit, which I understand is necessary even if you don’t carry on your person but in purse or glove box.  With my pistol I also bought a suede holster which I suppose goes inside the front waistband for a right-handed person to draw if carried on the person, but it’s anything but comfortable.