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OK, I know what you're thinking. The same question is coming - what should I carry. As good of a question as that is for a newbie, I want to take a different approach (well, at least I think it's different).

I've been reading a bunch of posts about people asking for advice on what gun to carry, is single stack better than double stack, is full-size better than compact, what type of holster is better, what type of ammo is best, who makes better .....

I've created lists (and made browser bookmarks) for all the recommended belts, holsters, clothing makers, etc so when I decide on something I can look into those accessories right away. So thanks for all the replies to other posts.

So let's skinny down the question to what I think is more directly to the point for what I'm pondering.

So my question (the question of a major newbie, so I apologize in advance) - what do you feel are the most important aspects of what you've decided to carry? Is it width, length, height, weight, capacity, caliber, style, manufacturer, or do you just find something you shoot well and figure out how to carry it later?

Situation - I just got my CCW permit 3 days ago. I've only been shooting seriously since March and am really enjoying it (over 2000 rounds of 9mm, and about 1000 of 22LR so far). I own an HK VP9, Walther PPQ M2 in both 9mm and 22LR (22LR was my very first purchase), and 2 AR15's (still assembling the second one). I've made the decision to carry for my personal safety (I'm a single guy) as well as anyone with me or just anyone around me who needs protecting if it came down to it. I've shot a handful of "compact" guns in 9mm (caliber I've decided to carry) - XD Mod 2 Subcompact, XDS 3", M&P Performance Center, PPS, P30SK, G26, and G43. There are a few I would like to shoot, but can't find any in a loaner case at any ranges around me (P99c AS, CCP). I've looked at the short list in terms of all dimensions and weights along with costs and availability of accessories (holsters mainly).

I'm a very analytical person (IT engineer by day) with spreadsheets, notes, comments, etc all over the place. So I want something I shoot well, but for my first go round I also want to be able to conceal it without a ton of things to worry about. I know my stable of carry guns will go up as will my holster collection, but I feel the first one is important so not to be discouraged to carry at all if I make a bad decision.

Thank for reading all of the ramblings of a newbie like myself. Any and all comments, questions, personal biases, etc are welcome and appreciated.
 

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So my question (the question of a major newbie, so I apologize in advance) - what do you feel are the most important aspects of what you've decided to carry? Is it width, length, height, weight, capacity, caliber, style, manufacturer, or do you just find something you shoot well and figure out how to carry it later?

When I first got my LTC - almost 20 years ago - I based my carry decision on what I was most capable with. Having tried several of my handguns on the range prior to the qualification process I stuck with the one that I scored best with, which was my Sig P220. I had several other options, sizes, calibers, etc, but why carry any of them if the Sig was the best performer in my hands? It was many years before I opted to carry something different. And once you commit to a particular pistol you'll figure out how to CC it well. I've never had any issues or challenges with the P220 and never have had a "blown cover" event. And I've never thought twice about the capacity of the P220 with a couple of spare mags.

Now, with that history of CC, I've recently switched to an M&P Shield 9. And this choice was made in consideration of weight and size. Sub C's weren't always available during the course of my CC and I hadn't taken the time to look at new products in the gun world in many years. But once I did it seemed like a logical option to downsize the physicality of my carry while maintaining decent firepower. I keep the 8 rnd mag in mine with 2x 8 rnd spares and put the finger rest/base plate on all 3 mags.
24 rnds of 9mm critical defense will do just fine and I can carry the Shield anywhere from AIWB to 5 o'clock comfortably in any attire the season calls for.
 

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For me it needed to be a multipurpose pistol and I was looking for reliability, capacity, accuracy, and simplicity. I ended up buying a Glock 23 gen 4 after trying a wide variety of 9mm and .40 in multiple brands of compact/subcompact pistols.

The only thing that you might not understand what I mean by the categories is simplicity. I wanted a gun I could pull out of my holster and fire instantly. No external safety besides for my right pointer finger. The other categories seem self explanatory.
 

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My first firearm was the Ruger SR 40C. I'd carry it 9+1. With a 15 round spare. It was easy to CC.
Skip ahead 2 1/2 years my wife wanted her first firearm and settled on a Glock G26. I opted to go with the G19. Simplicity and capacity plus she could use my magazines. Now I carry the Fullsize G17 gen 4. I like full size. I like having a spare (up to 3, 17 rounders). That's just me. Do I go small, on occasion I've carried just my Ruger LCP.


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It's always going to be a compromise. You need something small enough to conceal that has the firepower to stop an assailant and you have to be able to shoot it well. Small pistols are easy to conceal, but difficult to shoot well and don't pack adequate punch to stop a fight quickly. Large weapons are easier to shoot, but difficult to conceal.

I have a couple of firearms that I carry, depending on the circumstances. I carry a larger frame pistol in the winter because I can conceal it under a light jacket. In the summer I need something smaller that will conceal under a t-shirt.
 
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The stock (mostly) gun I shoot the best which is also easy to conceal is my M&P9C. Not too big, plenty of capacity, and accurate. One can also carry full sized 17-round magazines as spares. Lots of gun, small package.
 

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I agree with what Rhinoman said in that I carry a different gun depending on the circumstances.

I was initially carrying an m&p 45 and because of size/comfort and having to wear dress clothes a lot I found myself not ALWAYS carrying. Due to several factors I decided that it is best to ALWAYS have a firearm with me so I purchased a subcompact (G26) and it has become my work day EDC. It has taken some work to get near the proficiency I'm at with my 45, which I still shoot the best. I find it personally worth the sacrifice to have something that is easier to carry all the time as the subcompact is certainly better on me than the 45 being in my truck. I've also started shooting a lot more 9mm just because of cost. I can shoot twice as much which equals twice the fun at the range.
 
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I think you first need to zero in on what you think would be best for you. I would rent or see if I knew some one I know has that gun or guns and shoot them. I love my 1911s. I also have Sig 238 and 938. I have the shield and the S & W 9c. Each one has it purpose.
 
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For me, the primary question about choice of carry gun will always be the shape of the grip. It is very important to me that a carry gun not print at all, no matter what position my body is in, and no matter whether wind or something else pulls my cover garment snug against the gun.

Another factor is whether it is a caliber I believe in, and whether I enjoy shooting the gun. It's got to be something I enjoy shooting, because if it's my carry gun I need to be putting a LOT of rounds through it.

Now, that said, I'm a little weird because the above factors led me to service-size revolver as my platform of choice. I'm not trying to sell you on a wheelgun, but that's where the analysis led me and I am very very comfortable with that choice.
 

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Capacity/size/weight. But foremost reliability. Of those you mentioned in the OP IMO the G26 is nearly an ideal compromise. Small(ish) light, and you can run a 33 rd reload should you care to do so. That being said with a good holster and belt both of the pistols you currently own are great for CCW and aren't too heavy have great capacity and while heavier than the 26 the right belt will help remarkably with that.
 

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I live in a state where I can't have more than 4 carry guns on my license. So that is one limiting factor, the other is I have arthritis in my hands and can't shoot the smallest guns well any more. When I had to list the 4 I would carry I had to put some thought into it.
The smallest gun I can shoot well is a Walther PP [ just a little larger than a PPK] And what I decided I needed was a small gun I could pocket carry. That is what fits my lifestyle best. I also wanted a medium size gun that I could shoot better but only carry when I was wearing cloths that would cover it. and a Large gun with better sights for those times when I felt I needed more. The fourth spot I added a J frame revolver.

With all that said I almost always carry a 9+1 32 auto that fits well in my pocket, I can shoot it well out to 30 yards, and it has enough grip to get all three gripping fingers on it. It also is easy to get off the second and third well aimed shots from. Its just a little smaller than a S&W Shield. Once I leave CA I think Ill be adding a Shield . I have been shooting my sons while he is deployed and I will not be happy to send it home with him when he returns. It's about the biggest gun I can pocket carry easily.

I have not cc'd the large or medium guns in over a year. Pocket carry just fits my lifestyle and needs.

When you boil down your needs and wants to what really matters it will help you decide what to carry. DR
 

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I'm gonna break the chain a little. I'm not going to suggest a firearm. A good gun belt really is a necessity. And find a firearm that fits YOU. Try to find as many as you can to try out the grip. If it feels like it fits your hand, you're halfway there.
Now for breaking the chain... Study the laws in your state. Find out what ramifications you will encounter if you're involved in a self defense shooting.
Get some good insurance. If there's any kind of cloudiness in an investigation, you'll probably need bail money..
That said, you are using a firearm to STOP a threat. Not to wound a bad guy. You shoot until they stop. Prepare yourself for that reality.
It is a very huge responsibility to carry and you represent a large community. Conduct your lifestyle as that representative.
And lastly... Study..Know the law... And practice, practice, practice
Stay safe and welcome
 

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So my question (the question of a major newbie, so I apologize in advance) - what do you feel are the most important aspects of what you've decided to carry? Is it width, length, height, weight, capacity, caliber, style, manufacturer, or do you just find something you shoot well and figure out how to carry it later?
Pretty much a combination of all those things. Carrying concealed on a 20º winter day is no problem, but I to carry the same gun year round, so I need one that's light and compact enough not to print when I'm wearing jeans shorts and nothing much else on a 100º summer day. It has to be something I'm confident that I can point, shoot, and place its first shot on a playing card at 3 yards consistently and have reasonable stopping power. For me, that gun is a S&W J Frame in 38 spl. I'm enough of a pragmatist to figure that, at my age, if I haven't eliminated the threat with five shots, I'm not going to.
 

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As others have said, it is a combination of a variety of factors, INCLUDING your body shape and size and the resulting ability to conceal a particular firearm. You might also consider the clothing you do wear or must wear (as in a work uniform). Can it conceal something larger? For example, I can't carry my G19 or G30 very well unless I'm carrying IWB and wearing a shirt with a few wrinkles and some kind of print pattern. With the 19 I can get away with OWB in a Bianchi 82, but only if I'm wearing a darker, well patterned Hawaiian shirt. If your physiology is similar, can you wear a Hawaiian shirt every day? If I'm carrying my XDs, the foregoing requirements will depend on whether or not I am using the standard mag or the extended mag - and I'm not extremely comfortable with the standard mag because I can only get two grip fingers on it and the pinky slips underneath...so if I'm carrying the XDs it is almost always with the extended mag. With the p938 or p238, I can carry IWB VERY comfortably in a Black Arch or even a simple IWB like an Uncle Mike's. These give me 7 rounds with the pinky extension mag, and I do carry them from time to time, but mostly I will be carrying the p238 in a belly band on trail runs, and even in skimpy running shorts and a very thin dri-fit shirt, an uniformed passerby would never even suspect I was carrying. That said, I prefer a higher round count than the 938 or XDs can afford me, so I carry the g19 as often as I can get away with wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Finally, depending on the politiks of your state, you may have to list the weapons you certified with, as @dangerranger said. Looks like he's not far from me (Central Kalifornia -the People's Republik) and states he could list up to 4. State law allows 3 spaces for listing certified weapons on the CCW license, as I understand it, but some county sheriffs allow others/more to be listed. No so in my county...3 only. Here, you are stuck with those for 2years, until you re-up your license, when you can add/change listed weapons. If you have this restriction, consider it carefully. As my Utah CCW instructor advised us, don't be surprised if you end up with a big box full of holsters and maybe a couple of guns that didn't quite work. Spend time with the weapon(s) and holsters at home. Get to know what is comfortable and what is not. If you have an SO, have her look you up and down to see if you are printing while you are at home practicing. If there is no SO in the picture, make sure you have a long mirror to inspect your profile. Don't worry so much about a little bump, but do worry if it looks like a pistol grip...there are lots of folks out there who wear insulin pumps, holter monitors, and chemotherapy delivery systems, so a little bump doesn't matter. If anyone ever does ask, just tell them that's where you keep your "shots".

Finally, if you can find a good LGS that has a good selection of guns as well as holsters, some will let you try various combinations if it looks like you will buy one of each that works best for you. Good luck.
 

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Weight was my first consideration and I chose the .380 over the .32 because there was not that much difference in the weight but the .380 performs so much better in defensive situations. I have heavier calibers but I don't carry them on me. The LCP is a lot cheaper than it was when I bought mine and then I customized it myself until it is about like the LCP custom that you can buy today. I went with the stainless return rod but after trying the heavier return spring I think that it was causing FTE so I went back to the original return spring. I carry in the reactive pocket Holster that came with the Viridian green laser that I installed on the LCP. I carry one in the chamber and seven in the magazine or if I sense that I might need more I go to the ten round magazine or the fifteen rounder. I carry 2-15s , 2-10s and the 8 in my car now due to the lawlessness that seems to be tolerated around the country right now. I normally carry a ten and the eight at home but then I have other guns to chose from at home.
 

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You obviously want a gun you shoot well, is reliable, has enough capacity to make you comfortable and in a major caliber which most of those are going to be subjective. As far as concealment, I have found grip height to have the biggest impact on concealment because if it is too long it prints. A good holster can alleviate it. Width can be a big factor if you are going to carry IWB. For many weight is a big factor in comfort especially if carry all day long. If you do carry a heavier gun, a good gun belt is essential and can make a big difference in comfort.
 

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My carry has evolved over 20+ years.
Started with 5 shot snub or Mustang Pocketlite 380 (choice based on easy to hide)
Moved up to Glock 26/27 when they became available, incorrectly thought this was as big as I could conceal effectively (appendix IWB) for years.
Eventually (few years ago) discovered that I could conceal a 19/23/32 just as well, so moved up to that and never went back down in size.
Hasn't always been just Glock I experimented with other pistols, gave 1911's and XD's a shot too.
I dislike having to disengage a manual thumb safety (1911) and the XD's did not do as well as Glock in 2nd shot average (higher bore axis).

Started doing "tests" to determine which I shoot best quickly with an accuracy requirement (double taps on 6'' circle placed at about 6 yards)
My 2nd shot average time difference in calibers is minimal given same size pistol (19/23/32) about four or five hundredths of a second.
About a year ago, I got a Glock 21 and once again discovered that I could conceal a bigger pistol than I thought, 21 gets carried a lot.
A Glock 43 or Kahr PM9 in pocket is what I carry when I can do no better (after work, dress clothes) otherwise it is a option carried with a bigger pistol.
 
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