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  • Robert Farago

Which Gun for Everyday Carry?

A common sense guide

Before you choose an everyday carry gun, ask yourself a question. Do I feel lucky? Well do you punk? Because the odds of getting the gun/holster combo right the first time are perishingly small. But better after you read this…

If you don’t want to bother with a complicated multi-part process with plenty of places to go wrong, pocket carry a Ruger LCP .380 and practice drawing. Done.

Otherwise, as the Brits would say (if they hadn’t lost their gun rights), let’s get stuck in.

High Caliber Carry?

Your basic carry gun calibers: .22, .380, .38, 9mm, .40 and .45. Small to large bullet. Low to high recoil (a.k.a., “kick”).

Do not listen to people who consider a .22 a peashooter. Show me a someone who laughed off getting shot with a .22. Or an Israeli assassin who doesn’t prefer a .22 for close-up wet work.

Do not be intimidated by people preaching “I wouldn’t carry ammo that doesn’t start with a four.” With practice, you can master any caliber firearm (and not be a dick about it), but you are hardly defenseless with something smaller.

Shot Placement Über Alles

Your choice of carry gun caliber should be based mostly if not exclusively on shot placement: your ability to hit what you’re aiming at.

Yes, the larger the bullet, the greater the damage. But missing the bad guy doesn’t do anything in terms of damage, not enough in terms of disincentive and a great deal in terms of shooting an innocent bystander.

Carry the largest caliber gun you can shoot accurately.

The only way to know which caliber meets that criteria: rent/borrow various handguns and do some target shooting. I see how many rounds I can put through a paper plate at combat distance (seven yards) and how fast I can do so.

Gun Size Matters

Caliber sure, but comfort is the critical consideration for EDC. If your carry gun isn’t comfortable, you won’t carry it.

Carry the largest caliber gun you can shoot accurately and carry comfortably.

You can shoot the eye out of a newt with a Wilson Combat .45, but it weighs as much as a small boat anchor. A .38 snub-nosed revolver is easy to carry but shooting it accurately is a bitch (unless your name is Jerry Miculek)

Small gun, small caliber? Big gun, big caliber? Small gun, big caliber? Big gun, small caliber? Paging Dr. Goldilocks! Please meet your patient at your local gun store or gun range.

Holster? I Just Met Her!

Your holster choice (a.k.a., “carry system”) is mission critical for carry comfort (determining the optimal caliber and gun size). In fact, you might want to start your EDC adventure here.

There are five basic holsters (for men): inside the waistband, outside the waistband, ankle, shoulder or pocket. Each has its advantages and disadvantages relative to comfort and discretion, depending on the size and weight of the gun you want to carry.

Confused? No surprise there. If it’s at all possible, try various holster/gun combos, wearing what you normally wear, walking, sitting maybe even sprinting.

Be sure to test the ease of “presentation” (getting the gun out of the holster), and check your look in a mirror to see if you’re “printing” (if the gun’s outline is visible).

Number One With Bullet?

When it comes to your carry gun’s ammunition capacity, the more the merrier (though not for the bad guy). As the old saying goes, no one ended a gun fight wishing they had less bullets.

Be that as it is, adding carrying capacity to the EDC selection matrix can totally fuck with your head.


The larger caliber the gun, the heavier the bullets, the bigger and heavier the gun, the harder it is to carry and conceal, the easier it is to shoot. Unless you opt for a smaller gun in a larger caliber that holds fewer bullets that’s easier to carry and conceal but more difficult to shoot.

And just for fun (and protection) you can carry spare ammunition to reload during an armed confrontation. A bit of a bother, but there it is, changing the calculation. Again.

To Review

Here are my recommended EDC priorities:

  1. Comfort – Can I carry this gun in my preferred holster without wishing I wasn’t?

  2. Caliber – Can I hit the broad side of a barn with this gun? What about someone running around the barn trying to kill me?

  3. Capacity - How paranoid am I? Why am I fucking with the Crips?

Keep Calm and Carry On

As I said at the beginning, the odds of getting this right from the start aren’t great. But don’t let that stop you. Sometimes the more difficult the decision the more important it is. In this case, it could be a matter of life or death.

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