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Old December 6, 2011, 03:22 AM   #1
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Input on a concealed carry weapon

I am turning 21 in December and before anything else one of the first things I plan on doing is obtaining my concealed carry permit. As part of this process I have been researching various handguns. I have grown up shooting various firearms since I was six, but am more proficient in revolvers and rifles. The only semi-auto pistol I have ever shot is a Ruger MK II. I know I don't want to carry a 9mm, but my problem is choosing between a .357 sig and .45 acp, as well as any recommendations for guns in these platforms. I like the idea of the .357 sig as I grew up shooting a colt python, and that .357 sig attempts to replicate this with similar results, as well as the ability to switch out barrels in most of these guns to a .40 s&w, although I have some doubts about what they say this caliber is capable of doing. As for the .45 I cannot escape the fact of its time tested performance more specifically having to do with the 1911 and the idea of that reliability being there when I need it. It is a larger gun though and seems more awkward for a concealed carry than the smaller .357 sig, as well as its limited capacity. Any input on this subject would be of great help. Thank you.
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Old December 6, 2011, 03:42 AM   #2
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Hi snakestrikeace! Welcome to The Firing Line! I hope you find our community enjoyable and helpful. I came here after I picked up my first pistol and I've found this place a treasure trove of helpful, well-meaning input. If you're considerate and contribute to discussions, you'll not find a better community online (I post in several others and TFL is by far my favorite).

First off, you'll need to know that in every request thread, there are going to be a few people who ignore your requests. Some will criticize you for not wanting a 9x19, etc. That's fine, just scroll right on by.

Now, to address your two calibers of choice - .357 SIG and .45 ACP. Both wonderful calibers. The .357 SIG is, indeed, a necked-down .40 S&W with a 9x19 projectile that attempts to replicate the performance of the .357 Magnum. I, too, grew up shooting a Colt Python, so I'm assuming you're not recoil-averse. That being said, the Colt Python is a beautiful, heavy, firearm made of wood and steel. That tames recoil quite a bit. .357 SIG in autos has a particular snap and bark, in my opinion worse than the (also in my opinion) greatly exaggerated recoil of the .40 S&W cartridge.

A concealed carry gun will, ideally, be small and low in mass. That will exaggerate recoil. You can't fight physics, after all.. For this reason, I would like to recommend a carry gun in .45 ACP. The round is plentiful, easy to reload if you get into that, and the recoil is more of a "push" or a "thump" than a "snap", "pop", or "bang". Target re-acquisition will be slower with the .45 than most handgun rounds, but the payoff is a very powerful and very proven round.

For specific models of gun, I recommend:

Glock Model 30 or Model 36
The Glock 30 is a compact-sized Glock. They list it as a subcompact, but in reality it's closer in size to a compact-sized Glock 19 than a subcompact-sized Glock 26. The Glock 36 is a narrower .45, great for carrying, but the narrower frame and slide eliminate parts interchangeability with other Glock models. The pros here are the extreme durability and reliability of Glocks. The major con is that Glock grips tend to be a love-or-hate proposition. You'll need to feel one before you buy. That's good advice with any gun.

Springfield Armory XD(M) .45 Compact
This gun is a new entry into the field, but the XDM series is not. These guns have well-earned reputations for quality, reliability, fit, and finish. Customer support is also highly lauded. Well-fitted magazine extensions of varying capacity are readily available, which suits this gun (and really all XD and XDM models) very well for both home defense & nightstand duty as well as carry duty with a simple swap.

For ammunition selection, I would like to recommend any of the manufacturers and cartridges suggested at this link:

That list includes, in part:

Cor-Bon DPX All-Copper Bullet - 185gr JHP

Winchester Ranger-T 230gr JHP (RA45T)

Winchester Ranger-T 230gr JHP +P (RA45TP)

Federal Tactical 230gr JHP (LE45T1)

Federal HST 230gr +P JHP (P45HST1)

Federal HST 230gr JHP (P45HST2)

Speer Gold Dot 230 gr JHP (23966)

This being a forum for opinions, I have highlighted my favorites in bold. Feel free to retain that link for ammo selection in other calibers. Every round I carry is on one of those lists.

The .45 is not a platform I am well-versed in, preferring light-to-midsize calibers (.40 is my favorite followed by 9x19), so I'll stop my recommendations at those three models, which should serve you well.

I'm sure others on this excellent board will be able to help you more regarding guns in this specific caliber. Some will suggest compact 1911s, but I don't know enough about the reliability of micro 1911 platforms to recommend good ones.

Happy shooting!
16 Pistols, 5 Rifles, 1 Shotgun, no time to shoot them

Last edited by LockedBreech; December 6, 2011 at 03:51 AM.
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Old December 6, 2011, 04:53 AM   #3
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My first thought is, if you are more effective with a revolver, then why would you not want to carry one????

As far as semi auto's, I would suggest to try renting or shooting a friends semi auto. They will be completly different than shooting a revolver as it would seem you are already aware, and semi autos will differ from brand to brand also. I can drive nails with my Glock all day long, but cannot fire a Beretta effectively beacuse I am told my grip is too tight on the weapon, not allowing for it to cycle properly and causing a stovepipe every other round. It feels unnatural for me to hold it how it needed to be held, so off it went to the trading block.

Never buy or carry something someone tells you to because they know it will be the best for you. At best, take their recommendation and research it before even trying. Everyone has an opinion on the most effective caliber or weapon type or how much ammo you should stockpile, and NOBODY is ever wrong.

Good luck, and find something that you can draw and shoot effectively under stressful circumstances, and get a good concealable holster too.
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Old December 6, 2011, 08:31 AM   #4
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Welcome, I think the Glock 36 is the best lightweight 45 acp out there for CCW work. Very manageable recoil for it's size and weight. Give it a look.
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Old December 6, 2011, 09:00 AM   #5
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Agree with dascottsman, if you like revolvers why not choose a revolver? There are great choices in carry revolvers, including the S&W J-frames, Ruger LCR, and others. You can also carry something a bit larger if you want belt carry.

Don't talk yourself into a gun you don't want/like just because you think its what you should get. Few self defense encounters go past 5/6 rounds and there's a lot to be said for revolvers over autos.
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Old December 6, 2011, 09:01 AM   #6
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Good advice about taking good advice... Try as many guns as you can, think about what works for YOU, not what somebody else advises, or "what everybody else is doing," etc. Remember, "on the internet, everybody is an expert."

Also consider ammo cost. Your grip size. How much you're willing to practice. Remember, in a face to face shooting situation, you will follow your training, because your brain basically shuts down under high stress. You MUST practice a draw-and-shoot routine (e.g. draw and triple tap) until you can do it smoothly and quickly, without thinking. That takes ammo, which costs money.

Consider also magazine capacity. That Glock 36 is a terrific weapon, but it only holds 6 rounds. Are you comfortable with that? In most cases, 6 rounds of .45 ACP will fend off a single attacker, maybe two if you're good enough. Is that acceptable?

Look at the other extreme: A friend of mine who's a defensive shooting instructor with 20 years of DEA drug interdiction work carries a SIG 226 9mm with a 20 round magazine. That's 21 rounds, with one in the chamber. Plus he carries two extra magazines on his belt. That's a total of 61 rounds he can fire in a few seconds. He starts every day by drawing and dry-firing 50-100 times, and he can empty that SIG at the rate of about 6 rounds per second.

So step back, listen to everybody, but believe nothing, and make your own decision.
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Old December 6, 2011, 09:19 AM   #7
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I have to preface this by saying I don't carry but I do have some advice on picking a handgun. I wouldn't weigh the cost of ammo in making my decision. If you find a good gun, that suits you and that you are comfortable with then a few dollars on ammo shouldn't sway you either way. Defense rounds are going to be fairly expensive, even in 9mm.

You seem to have discounted the 9mm, which I think may be a mistake. Like Ruark said, you can pack a lot more 9mm in a clip than you can with the larger rounds. I would assume this is also the reason you want a semi auto as opposed to a revolver.

If you do stick with .45, I might suggest checking out a Springfield XD. I haven't personally handled one, so you may want to pick it up at a gun store and see how it feels. Better yet, if you live by a range that lets you rent firearms you should try that. See how it feels in your hands, how well you can hit with it and get a feel for size and weight. I've heard nothing but good things about the XD and every gun shop owner I've talked to says they have a hard time keeping them in stock because they're so popular.

Normally I'm not one to jump on the bandwagon, but they seem to be similar to Glocks for less money.

Also, have you considered a .40 cal? Plenty of stopping power and it'll allow for a higher capacity magazine.
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Old December 6, 2011, 09:21 AM   #8
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Hello and welcome to the forums!

If your more proficient with the revolver than why not carry one? Revolvers are time tested and small ones are great for carry!

That being said, I carry a semi-auto as I feel that I enjoy/shoot them better and I prefer the higher capacity.

Between the .45 and the .357sig I would choose the .45... The prices are around the same with sometimes the sig being more expensive. I've always loved the .45 caliber.

I carry a full-size USP .45. This is not a small gun to carry concealed but I shoot it very well and it has never malfunctioned and I have 12+1 capacity. That's just me and a lot of people don't want to carry full-size handguns. It does get a little heavy on my hip as the day goes on.

I'd like to ask why you don't want to carry 9mm. Its an effective defense round especially with hollow points and ammo is a lot cheaper. I prefer the .45 but my father absolutely loves his 9mm... Is this gun strictly for carry or are you going to shoot frequently with it?

If you're going to shoot frequently with it than I would choose something Full-size or compact but not subcompact. Personally I wouldn't want a full range day with a subcompact but I can see the major appeal they have for carry.

In the end your best bet would be to look around and pick a few up and see what you like in your hand. Be it revolver or semi-auto. After you narrow it down to a couple try to see if you can rent to shoot around you and if you can try them out. Variety is the best thing about guns and you're going to be the guy carrying it so make sure its something that you like and that you can shoot it well.

The one thing I personally find most important in choosing a CCW that cannot be judged by how it feels in your hand is RELIABILITY...

I would stay within these brands for quality of build and reliability..

(I have experience with these 5 and no specific order)
Smith & Wesson
Springfield Armory

GOODLUCK and the forum is always here to help and the Search feature is a great tool!

Happy Holidays

post pics when you make your choice!!!
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Old December 6, 2011, 09:40 AM   #9
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I think Ruark summed things up nicely. Ultimately, its all your decision, and a decision best made on personal experience rather than a consensus of others.

I wouldnt get to caught up in the caliber debates. These days, most of the premium ammo in the usually accepted "full size" calibers are pretty close. I seriously doubt a similar hit with any of them would give a different result. Now shooting them can be different and in some cases, a challenge, depending on the caliber/gun choice. Getting those hits may be easier with one than another.

There was a time when I was of the thought that only a .45acp would get it done, and if you couldnt solve "any" problem with 7 or 8 rounds, it wasnt getting done. Im a little older and wiser now. These days, Ill take as many rounds as I can reasonably get in the gun, and the .45's have been riding in the safe, and haent seen a holster for quite awhile now. My J frames dont see the light much anymore either.

Just a personal note on 357SIG. Ive had a number of guns that were chambered in it, and its the round that started me on the path away from the .45acp. I liked the near 357mag power in a package about the size of a 9mm, and a capacity that was close to it too. After living with it for a little while, a little more research, and with changes in ammo costs, I came to the conclusion that I'd be better served with a 9mm.

For the difference in the cost of ammo between them, both factory and reloads, I can shoot a lot more, and 9mm +P+ is basically the same thing, power wise, as the 357SIG, so I have the best of both worlds.
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Old December 6, 2011, 09:48 AM   #10
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A couple things:

IMHO, the biggest mistake a new CCW person can make is to slap on a huge gun and expect to be carrying it everywhere. In most cases, they end up leaving it home.

I like revolvers too, and got hooked when I tried a Ruger LCR out. Now THAT is a gun you can EASILY take places. I just loved the thing.

If you are really stuck on the .45, and want high capacity, then I highly recommend the Taurus PT-145. It will give you 11 rounds of .45 ACP in a small package (Yes, believe it or not). It's proven very popular, and reliable for many shooters. CAVEAT: IT IS INEXPENSIVE AT $360! Yes, I know Taurus gets a bad rap, and sometimes deservedly so, but the PT-145 gets high ratings, has had the bugs worked out of it, and is just a great gun. Load it with some Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel and you're good to go.

There is also a PT-745 version that is identical but with a slimmer grip and a 7 shot capacity. I would get the PT-145, as most people say they can't feel the difference in width when carrying.

Lastly, I don't recommend the .357 sig unless you are a highway patrolman. That thing is just too freakin' loud, and the sound pressure volumes will blow out your ears indoors if you ever have to use it... far louder than many other calibers. Of course, there will be some computer jockey who will tell you you won't care if you actually have to defend your life, but I wouldn't want to end up deaf or with a constant ring in my ears for the rest of my life if there are other equal options that can save my ears.

Last edited by baccusboy; December 6, 2011 at 10:02 AM.
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Old December 6, 2011, 10:02 AM   #11
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You didn't mention your time or budget regarding your decision making process. The. Est thing is to assess your skill and comfort with shooting and carrying a particular model. Recruit the help of friends who have guns that you can try. Guns are not inexpensive purchases: maintenance, extra magazines, holsters, ammunition, speedclips/moon clips/moonclips all add up.

Caliber doesn't really matter as much as what you shoot well, can afford and can find in terms of availability.

I used a government 1911 initially while I looked for a gun for concealment, interchanging with a Ruger SP-101. I grabbed a Glock 23 followed by a 27 because they afforded me interchangeability for compact and subcompact sized pistols. I carry my 27 these days because I can conceal and hit with it the best two handed, one handed or weak handed.

I will carry a LCR at times when I just need to quickly make a run or walk the dog. I carry the Glocks when I have some time to get ready.

I don't like guns with external safeties. That's just me.

When choosing a gun, determine what holster you will use. They really should be chosen together. IWB is the most flexible regarding clothing, concealment, to me. Bear in mind, a revolver is best carried IWB unless it's a snubby, then pocket is viable.

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Old December 6, 2011, 10:34 AM   #12
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That PT-145 looks like a GREAT pistol. Small, neat, ergonomic, and it's hard to beat 11 rounds of .45ACP. With a couple of extra clips on the other side of your belt, you'd be ready to roll.

The only thing I don't like about it is the DAO trigger. Having cut my shooting teeth on a single action 1911, I personally can't stand that looooong "toy cap gun" trigger pull.
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Old December 6, 2011, 11:33 AM   #13
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Boy did I ever call that one when I said that practically every poster would defend the 9x19 despite the OP specifically excluding it from consideration!

I try to respond to the needs expressed by the OP, even if I feel they are incorrect.

For what it's worth, I'd avoid the Taurus, but full disclosure, I'm not a neutral source. I am an open and avowed Taurus hater (family owned a few different models that were all just trash).

A Ruger SP-101 or LCR are lovely little carry revolvers, as suggested, but this post in Semiauto gave me the impression that you were looking for an auto over a revolver. Is that correct?
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Old December 6, 2011, 11:56 AM   #14
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Believe it or not, you can save a lot of time by figuring out what kind of trigger action you are comfy with.

As a revolver guy think about how you shoot your wheel guns.

If you long-pull them then a DAO action might be great for you. If you use your thumb like you would shoot SA revolvers then you will love SA pistols and along with magazines you can get used to safetys.

In the middle is DA/SA like Beretta's and others. First pull is long, the rest are SA short.

And then there are a few oddballs like the P-7 that are sqeeze cockers, just draw, hold onto the grip firm, and sqeeze the trigger.

Figure the trigger action out, shoot some good examples of each, and go from there. Good luck and have fun.

Oh, and there is a difference between defending the 9mm and suggesting the OP keep an open mind and let natural selection bring him to the caliber that will work best for him.
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Last edited by lcpiper; December 6, 2011 at 12:02 PM.
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Old December 6, 2011, 12:07 PM   #15
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My thoughts were that if he has been shooting since his was six, he probably has familiarity with the 9 even if he has not shot one. I would understand suggesting 9 stay on the table if he was a brand new shooter.

I just find it consistently frustrating that in recommendation request threads, so many ignore the call of the question to voice their own opinion. I'm reminded of the thread where the OP was an experienced shooter wanting cheap 1911 suggestions. He specifically said no Taurus PT1911, and of course six people suggested that very gun.
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Old December 6, 2011, 12:26 PM   #16
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As I often do with new CCWer's, I'll just bring up the weight factor. A lot of new CCWer's (especially younger ones) want to make sure they have enough firepower... that's natural. But if one is serious about carrying all the time through the years, a heavy gun can become quite a burden. Commander-size 1911's are great but still quite heavy. Tiny 3-inch barrel .45's are a little iffy reliability-wise.

For me, 6+1 rds. of .45 is enough... (Less than 3 shots are fired in the VAST MAJORITY of SD incidents... especially regarding non-LEOs.) In the 21-22 oz. range, the Kahr CW45 or P45... or the longer-grip 23 oz. TP45 7+1... are worth serious consideration. ('Course, you can always use a 7-rd. extended mag in the CW45 & P45 too.)
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Last edited by CWKahrFan; December 6, 2011 at 12:42 PM.
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Old December 6, 2011, 12:27 PM   #17
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Hi snakestrikeace!

I did exactly what you want to do (20 years ago). Choosing a gun depends on your purpose and preference. I chose a Smith 40. cal Mod 411 as my first gun. I wanted something with a 4" barrel so that I could carry it deer hunting if I needed a finish shot. I also liked the capacity. I could carry conceal and hunt. This gun was like carring a brick around though (12 180gr rounds adds weight).

If you are looking for just a carry gun i would recomend something like a S&W airweight revolver or Ruger LCP's (their latest is in 9MM). I carry a Ruger LCP .380 and love it. Its not something you want to take out every weekend and target shoot with its CC only.
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Old December 6, 2011, 12:36 PM   #18
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The best thing you can do for yourself is find a local range and rent as many handguns as you can. Try them all out and see what works for you the best.

There is nothing wrong with either caliber you have chosen. If you are more comfortable with revolvers then by all means stick with a revolver.

Two important things to keep in mind are size and weight constraint though. It’s easier to carry something that is lightweight and small but it is not always easier to shoot something that is lightweight and small. Only you will be able to tell what suites you the best.

Best of luck!
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Old December 6, 2011, 02:31 PM   #19
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Thank you for your input. And yes I have considered a revolver for concealed carry as I currently own a snub taurus in .357mag/.38spcl. As for larger revolvers they are not quite as comfortable for concealment as a semi auto. BTW I am considering carrying either inside belt or shoulder holster.

The reason I was thinking semi auto was an all around gun that is not only accurate (which a snub nose is not) but also a good general use sidearm.

As for 9mm I am familiar with the round and it has never been something that I quite got on board with, and by no means am I discrediting it is a good round in many means it is just a round that I am not a fan of.

As for comfort I have had the opportunity to handle a S&W M&P .357 sig and it felt very comfortable in my hand, more so than many of the 1911's I've held I have looked into the XD considering my M1A is one of my favorite rifles, but unfortunately have not had the opportunity to handle one.

And Thank you for the advice on going to rent one to shoot I know we have a range where they rent pistols I just need to look into what they have available, which has been the hardest part about this process trying to find a gun you are comfortable with if you dont have readily available access to that firearm, cause holding a weapon and shooting one are two very different things.
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Old December 6, 2011, 03:59 PM   #20
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If you are looking at compact .45s, I would also recommend the Glock 36 and the Kahr CW45. Trigger feel definitely varies with the DAOs available, but I think Kahr has one of the best triggers on the market. I've shot an M&P .40, and I also like the way it feels. Personally though, I prefer the single stack designs. If you have concerns about capacity, I would look more towards the .357 sigs as it is hard to fit that many rounds into a small package when going with a .45.
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.357 sig , .45 1911 , .45 acp , concealed carry

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