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Thread: Choosing the right CCW handgun for me

  1. #1
    Junior Member PhillyCheese's Avatar
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    Choosing the right CCW handgun for me

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    Hello everyone.
    I am sure this subject comes up all the time.
    Yet, here I am asking this community for guidance on choosing the right CCW handgun for me.

    I have been licensed to carry concealed since 2008.
    I have owned a few handguns and have carried most of them concealed at one time or another.
    The only one I have owned that was best suited for concealed carry was a Bersa .380.
    This was the first gun I purchased, back in 2005,
    Unfortunately, this gun was of such poor quality control that I had to sell it.

    So now I am looking for a handgun that is concealed carry specific.
    Below are the details of what I am looking for.
    Thank you to the community in advance for any and all advice and suggestions.

    Budget:
    -$300 - $400 preferably.
    Can be less, can be more if the gun is right for me, but would like to stay in the listed budget range.
    $500 would be the ceiling on the high side.

    Handgun Type:
    Semi-Auto.
    No revolvers considered.

    Caliber:
    - .380.
    Am willing to go less, and possibly even consider a 9mm, but .380 and lower is where I am looking.

    Origin:
    - Prefer something made in the USA.
    Does not have to be and is not the highest priority.
    If there are two guns that are identical, and one is made in the USA and the other is made overseas, I will choose the model made in the USA.

    Priorities: (All of these are negotiable, but is what is on my mind).
    - Gun size.
    The smaller the better, but......
    - Hand Grip size.
    Has to have a pistol grip that I can get my hand around.
    Pinky extensions, and other magazine or grip extensions are fine.
    I just cannot have one or two fingers hanging off the pistol grip.
    It is too awkward and uncomfortable for me to shoot.
    - Slide Lock.
    - Double Action / Single Action.
    - Slide stays open after last shot.
    - External Safety.
    - Prefer Matte Black or Blued, not Two-Tone.
    - No Single Action Only guns.

    Non-Priorities:
    - Mag Capacity.
    - Hammer fired vs striker fired.
    - Sights. Prefer as low profile as possible, but really makes no difference.
    - Picatinny Rails.
    - Lasers.
    - Flashlights.
    - Ambidextrous Safety.
    - Trigger Safety.


    Guns for consideration (Including but not limited to):
    - Ruger:
    1. LCP.
    2. LC .380.
    3. LCP.
    4. SR9 Subcompact.

    - Smith$Wesson:
    1. M&P BodyGuard.
    2. M&P Shield.

    - Kel-Tec:
    1. P-32.
    2. P3-AT.

    - Glock:
    1. G-42.
    2. G-19.

    Beretta:
    1. Nano.
    2. Pico.

    - Kahr Arms
    1. CW 380.
    2. P 380.

    - Springfield Armory
    1. XDS 9mm.

    HandGuns ruled out due to cost, personal preference, or other.
    - Sig Sauer.
    - Bersa.
    - Colt.
    - Kimber.
    - High Point.
    - Taurus.
    - CZ.
    - Magnum Research.

    All advice and suggestions are welcome.
    Thank you again.

  2. #2
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    I would suggest you take a look at the Kel-Tec line of pistols.

  3. #3
    Senior Member goldwing's Avatar
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    Lc9s, g43.

    Gw

  4. #4
    Member Spike12's Avatar
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    Personally, I pick out my dream gun then go looking for a good used one. Guns are made to last huge amount of rounds and most users generally only scratch the surface of their gun's life span. It may take you longer to finally put something on your hip but you maybe happier and more secure with what it is.

    COnsidering how much ammo you should put through a new gun before you KNOW it's reliable and broken in there might be a savings right there too.

    Just another point of view.

    About 1/2 of my guns are used. I have no regrets at all.
    boatdoc173 and PhillyCheese like this.

  5. #5
    Member DirtyDog's Avatar
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    Since you've got the G42 and G19 on your list, it would probably be smart to split the difference between them and look at the G26 as well.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Cait43's Avatar
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    If you have a gun range near you that rents firearms I suggest you go that route..........
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  7. #7
    Member Smitty79's Avatar
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    Why not a CZ P-07. Close on price. Great ergonomics.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    It's useless for us, who know nothing about you, to recommend which gun you should buy.
    Further, some of your criteria are at odds with others of them.

    The very best thing that you could do is to find a range where you can rent time on many different guns, try as many as you can afford to (maybe five per session), take careful notes about each one you try, and then, after you've exhausted their stock or your cash, go home, read over your notes, and then make your own choice.
    Remember that tiny pistols (like the Kel-Tec P-3AT) are very hard to shoot well. Unless you are already expert with a pistol, the tiny ones will seem inaccurate and uncomfortable, even though the truth is that they are not. Small pistols demand long practice and constant brush-up.

    Remember further that it is easy to conceal a long barrel, by just shoving it deeper into your pants, but the handle of any pistol is the difficult part to hide. A large grip area on a pistol with a short barrel is about as self-defeating as you can get.
    Lasers are also self-defeating, unless you already are a pretty good pistol shot. The dot moves around, and you will be tempted to "chase the dot." That doesn't work. Also, never mount a flashlight on a pistol. The result of doing that is that you will find yourself pointing your flashlight—and your loaded gun—at someone whom you do not want to shoot.

    Save enough money to buy a good holster, and also a really good belt. A good holster will cost you at least 1/3 of the price of the gun, and maybe as much as 1/2. A proper belt will cost at least 1/4 of the price of your pistol, and maybe even 1/3. Practice making lots of presentations: It helps break-in the holster. And you.
    If you insist upon pocket carry, buy a really good pocket holster. Carry nothing but the holstered gun in the chosen pocket. Do as many complete presentations from your pocket as you can in 10 minutes, including follow-through, and then stop until tomorrow. Do that every day, without fail.

    Good luck. Keep us informed.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member denner's Avatar
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    Well, i beleive you now need to start by wittling down your contenders. If an external safety is a priority(I don't consider a trigger safety an external safety) you can cross off more than a couple from your list.

    Reliability in a pistol is #1 in my book, especially in a carry pistol. The manufacturers you've mentioned have solid reputations, so that's a good thing.

    Generally, striker fired pistols are easier to master than DA/SA's at first.

    The best option is to rent and shoot your short list of contenders if possible.

    You of course are going to receive personal preferences, which may or may not be helpful. Here's mine, I prefer double stacked 9mm compacts even though many single stack 9mm's are thinner and generally more comfortable to carry. I prefer DA/SA pistols such as Beretta's PX4 Compact.

    If it were me and with your criteria, even though I've never shot a S&W shield, based on my observations it would probably be the #1 contender shared with the XDS and if you can get by w/o an external safety; Glock, Nano, Kahr, (not necessarily in that order).

    All are excellent, but it will boil down to you and how you shoot it and your personal preferences. The good thing is that you've chosen worthy contenders that will just demand your personal preference, (i.e. no bad apples or jam-o-matics.)
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Bisley's Avatar
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    Of those listed, my personal choice is the Springfield XDs. The Shield is second, if the trigger is good. I'm not a .380 fan, but if you are, I can say that my experience with the Ruger LCP has been good - I just don't carry it much because the others I listed are far superior in accuracy potential and power. The LCP and similar are strictly pocket pistols, fall into a class of handguns that I consider to be for 'last resort' or as a 'better than nothing at all' weapon.

    If you are accustomed to carrying the Bersa, either of the two 9mm's I suggest are approximately equal in size, and far superior in function, accuracy, and power.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhillyCheese View Post
    Hello everyone.
    I am sure this subject comes up all the time.
    Yet, here I am asking this community for guidance on choosing the right CCW handgun for me.

    I have been licensed to carry concealed since 2008.
    I have owned a few handguns and have carried most of them concealed at one time or another.
    The only one I have owned that was best suited for concealed carry was a Bersa .380.
    This was the first gun I purchased, back in 2005,
    Unfortunately, this gun was of such poor quality control that I had to sell it.

    So now I am looking for a handgun that is concealed carry specific.
    Below are the details of what I am looking for.
    Thank you to the community in advance for any and all advice and suggestions.

    Budget:
    -$300 - $400 preferably.
    Can be less, can be more if the gun is right for me, but would like to stay in the listed budget range.
    $500 would be the ceiling on the high side.

    Handgun Type:
    Semi-Auto.
    No revolvers considered.

    Caliber:
    - .380.
    Am willing to go less, and possibly even consider a 9mm, but .380 and lower is where I am looking.

    Origin:
    - Prefer something made in the USA.
    Does not have to be and is not the highest priority.
    If there are two guns that are identical, and one is made in the USA and the other is made overseas, I will choose the model made in the USA.

    Priorities: (All of these are negotiable, but is what is on my mind).
    - Gun size.
    The smaller the better, but......
    - Hand Grip size.
    Has to have a pistol grip that I can get my hand around.
    Pinky extensions, and other magazine or grip extensions are fine.
    I just cannot have one or two fingers hanging off the pistol grip.
    It is too awkward and uncomfortable for me to shoot.
    - Slide Lock.
    - Double Action / Single Action.
    - Slide stays open after last shot.
    - External Safety.
    - Prefer Matte Black or Blued, not Two-Tone.

    Non-Priorities:
    - Mag Capacity.
    - Hammer fired vs striker fired.
    - Sights. Prefer as low profile as possible, but really makes no difference.
    - Picatinny Rails.
    - Lasers.
    - Flashlights.
    - Ambidextrous Safety.
    - Trigger Safety.
    - No Single Action Only guns.

    Guns for consideration (Including but not limited to):
    - Ruger:
    1. LCP.
    2. LC .380.
    3. LCP.
    4. SR9 Subcompact.

    - Smith$Wesson:
    1. M&P BodyGuard.
    2. M&P Shield.

    - Kel-Tec:
    1. P-32.
    2. P3-AT.

    - Glock:
    1. G-42.
    2. G-19.

    Beretta:
    1. Nano.
    2. Pico.

    - Kahr Arms
    1. CW 380.
    2. P 380.

    - Springfield Armory
    1. XDS 9mm.

    HandGuns ruled out due to cost, personal preference, or other.
    - Sig Sauer.
    - Bersa.
    - Colt.
    - Kimber.
    - High Point.
    - Taurus.
    - CZ.
    - Magnum Research.

    All advice and suggestions are welcome.
    Thank you again.
    JMHO
    not on your list(due to being a 9mm_ walther CCP

    I love my walther ccp . I also have glock 19 or 43 for carry use--all cost less than 500 dollars

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    It's useless for us, who know nothing about you, to recommend which gun you should buy.
    Further, some of your criteria are at odds with others of them.

    The very best thing that you could do is to find a range where you can rent time on many different guns, try as many as you can afford to (maybe five per session), take careful notes about each one you try, and then, after you've exhausted their stock or your cash, go home, read over your notes, and then make your own choice.
    Remember that tiny pistols (like the Kel-Tec P-3AT) are very hard to shoot well. Unless you are already expert with a pistol, the tiny ones will seem inaccurate and uncomfortable, even though the truth is that they are not. Small pistols demand long practice and constant brush-up.

    Remember further that it is easy to conceal a long barrel, by just shoving it deeper into your pants, but the handle of any pistol is the difficult part to hide. A large grip area on a pistol with a short barrel is about as self-defeating as you can get.
    Lasers are also self-defeating, unless you already are a pretty good pistol shot. The dot moves around, and you will be tempted to "chase the dot." That doesn't work. Also, never mount a flashlight on a pistol. The result of doing that is that you will find yourself pointing your flashlight—and your loaded gun—at someone whom you do not want to shoot.

    Save enough money to buy a good holster, and also a really good belt. A good holster will cost you at least 1/3 of the price of the gun, and maybe as much as 1/2. A proper belt will cost at least 1/4 of the price of your pistol, and maybe even 1/3. Practice making lots of presentations: It helps break-in the holster. And you.
    If you insist upon pocket carry, buy a really good pocket holster. Carry nothing but the holstered gun in the chosen pocket. Do as many complete presentations from your pocket as you can in 10 minutes, including follow-through, and then stop until tomorrow. Do that every day, without fail.

    Good luck. Keep us informed.
    great post steve--per usual

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spike12 View Post
    Personally, I pick out my dream gun then go looking for a good used one. Guns are made to last huge amount of rounds and most users generally only scratch the surface of their gun's life span. It may take you longer to finally put something on your hip but you maybe happier and more secure with what it is.

    COnsidering how much ammo you should put through a new gun before you KNOW it's reliable and broken in there might be a savings right there too.

    Just another point of view.

    About 1/2 of my guns are used. I have no regrets at all.
    I like used guns BUT I have to be sure no one has replaced any original parts with after market ones--at least for SD/HD use-otherwise great post

  14. #14
    Member DirtyDog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boatdoc173 View Post
    I like used guns BUT I have to be sure no one has replaced any original parts with after market ones--at least for SD/HD use-otherwise great post
    Why do you object to aftermarket modifications?

  15. #15
    CW
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    Based on some of your preferences, I would be inclined to also consider the following used pistols:

    Walther PPK or similar

    Beretta 85 ...... (I've seen some nice used ones for $399 and new ones are on the market) * this would be my choice.

    Or even a 9x18 Makarov PM or the Polish variants are quite nice. ( I was told to be cautious with Bulgarian/Romanian issues)

  16. #16
    Junior Member PhillyCheese's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    It's useless for us, who know nothing about you, to recommend which gun you should buy.
    Further, some of your criteria are at odds with others of them.
    The very best thing that you could do is to find a range where you can rent time on many different guns, try as many as you can afford to (maybe five per session), take careful notes about each one you try, and then, after you've exhausted their stock or your cash, go home, read over your notes, and then make your own choice.
    Remember that tiny pistols (like the Kel-Tec P-3AT) are very hard to shoot well. Unless you are already expert with a pistol, the tiny ones will seem inaccurate and uncomfortable, even though the truth is that they are not. Small pistols demand long practice and constant brush-up.
    Remember further that it is easy to conceal a long barrel, by just shoving it deeper into your pants, but the handle of any pistol is the difficult part to hide. A large grip area on a pistol with a short barrel is about as self-defeating as you can get.
    Lasers are also self-defeating, unless you already are a pretty good pistol shot. The dot moves around, and you will be tempted to "chase the dot." That doesn't work. Also, never mount a flashlight on a pistol. The result of doing that is that you will find yourself pointing your flashlight–and your loaded gun–at someone whom you do not want to shoot.
    Save enough money to buy a good holster, and also a really good belt. A good holster will cost you at least 1/3 of the price of the gun, and maybe as much as 1/2. A proper belt will cost at least 1/4 of the price of your pistol, and maybe even 1/3. Practice making lots of presentations: It helps break-in the holster. And you.
    If you insist upon pocket carry, buy a really good pocket holster. Carry nothing but the holstered gun in the chosen pocket. Do as many complete presentations from your pocket as you can in 10 minutes, including follow-through, and then stop until tomorrow. Do that every day, without fail.
    Good luck. Keep us informed.
    I appreciate your post and the advice given.
    I would like to address some of your thoughts.

    1. I in fact do not feel that it is useless for anyone in this community to offer advice on what specific gun models to for me to research, investigate, and choose from.
    Makes no difference whether you know me or not, quite the opposite.
    I feel the wide range of experience from this community with all manner of gun makes and models can only help me make a better choice.
    There can be a wide range of benefits, or a wide range of negatives, about any gun model that often times does not get advertised nor included in the basic gun information.
    Like any product, gun brands and gun models can have their quirks and that information is passed along by users experienced with the brand and model.

    2. The criteria listed is not at odds with itself.
    It is listed in a manner to give the reader direction as to what points I am most interested in, yet flexible enough to keep an open mind.
    It is also intended to be reasonable and accepting of the fact that I will not get everything I want in a CCW gun and at a low cost.
    Sometimes, however, life will surprise you and there may in fact be a product out there that offers more features at the price point and size one is looking for in a gun.

    3. You are exactly right in your suggestion to rent as many guns as I can, shoot them, take notes, and make a decision.
    That is on the to do list.
    Keep in mind that logistically speaking, it is not always that easy.
    Most of the gun ranges in my area do not inventory CCW specific guns for rentals at their gun ranges.
    Sometimes they are available, but often are rented out at the time I am at the range, or being serviced, or set aside to be cleaned.
    You also have to consider the cost factor both financially and time wise.
    Renting several guns, of multiple calibers, over multiple days, at various gun ranges can really add up to cost more than the actual purchase of the gun.
    While on paper I agree with you, and do in fact intend to rent as many as my time and my wallet will allow, it is not always just that easy.

    4. I do not agree with you on the point of taking a longer barrel and just shoving it deeper into your pants.
    I am looking for a dedicated, deep cover CCW gun.
    So the suggestion would not accommodate gym shorts and athletic attire.
    You are also suggesting that I am looking for a large grip.
    I am simply looking for a longer grip, that is more accommodating for my hand, and in no way find it self defeating given the specs of a short barrel and a slightly longer grip.

    5. I listed lasers and lights in the Non-Priority list.
    These are not something that interest me so am not sure why you commented on this point.
    Having said that, I do not share the same view as you on the effectiveness of both lasers and flashlights on pistols.
    While I prefer to not have them, I would not rule out ever having them.
    This especially if the gun make and model I am looking for happens to come with one or the other (or both) stock, and there is a great financial deal on the gun.

    6. I agree with you in purchasing the right quality holster, getting familiar with the gun at the range, and practicing with the ergonomics of the intended carry approach.

    Again, thank you for your comments.
    It is always important for clarity to be present in any public discussion.
    Thus sometimes it is necessary to fully respond to one's post.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    There is no need to argue, or even only to discuss.
    You asked for advice.
    I offered my considered advice.
    Your only duty to me is to read what I wrote, carefully, and then to do whatever you prefer to do.

    When you ask for advice, don't expect that the advice you get will agree with your desires or intentions.
    Just take the offered advice in, and think about it.
    You don't have to agree with it, and you don't have to follow it.
    PhillyCheese likes this.

  18. #18
    Senior Member SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    I noticed your statement, "I am looking for a dedicated, deep cover CCW gun" and this alone will help to narrow your choices quite a bit. Before I get into this, one thing is a must; the criteria of a defensive sidearm. There are three and they are, in order of significance...

    1. Reliability. The gun must go bang whenever called upon in an extreme encounter. If it fails to do this, the next two criteria are moot points.
    2. Practical accuracy. This is the ability of the shooter/firearm combination to deliver rounds to target effectively, consistently, and confidently. If you cannot do this with a given sidearm, the last criteria is meaningless.
    3. Power. The cartridge (caliber) and chosen load must have sufficient power to bring hostilities to a close as quickly as possible. This is the dark horse of the three in that there are so many variables involved. However in general, the more powerful and well designed the cartridge/load, the better it is likely to perform this task. As a note, the /.380ACP is hard pressed to fill this bill, but in the right hands it certainly can do the job.

    What the above means is that you should only included candidates which have a proven track record and with which you can perform effectively enough to save your skin. Never skimp on quality.

    Now about your statement which I quoted above and your key words, "deep cover". Such a sidearm is largely going to be dependent upon your physical stature and dress. To me, deep cover equates to a sidearm which conceals to the point of being virtually invisible to even the close observer. The casual observer may not even notice a 1911 or a Glock 19 carried concealed but someone who is experienced almost always will. A deeply concealed sidearm becomes a ghost to most anyone.

    One handgun that comes to mind right away for your purposes is the M&P 9 Shield. Small, decent capacity, reasonably accurate for its size, easy to shoot, and quite reliable. Here is a writeup I did for this little gem. If you are of a mind to move up in size a little, more on your list will open up as viable possibles.

    A top candidate for stealthy concealment
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  19. #19
    Junior Member PhillyCheese's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    There is no need to argue, or even only to discuss.
    You asked for advice.
    I offered my considered advice.
    Your only duty to me is to read what I wrote, carefully, and then to do whatever you prefer to do.

    When you ask for advice, don't expect that the advice you get will agree with your desires or intentions.
    Just take the offered advice in, and think about it.
    You don't have to agree with it, and you don't have to follow it.
    Well said, man.
    I do appreciate your advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernBoy View Post
    I noticed your statement, "I am looking for a dedicated, deep cover CCW gun" and this alone will help to narrow your choices quite a bit. Before I get into this, one thing is a must; the criteria of a defensive sidearm. There are three and they are, in order of significance...

    1. Reliability. The gun must go bang whenever called upon in an extreme encounter. If it fails to do this, the next two criteria are moot points.
    2. Practical accuracy. This is the ability of the shooter/firearm combination to deliver rounds to target effectively, consistently, and confidently. If you cannot do this with a given sidearm, the last criteria is meaningless.
    3. Power. The cartridge (caliber) and chosen load must have sufficient power to bring hostilities to a close as quickly as possible. This is the dark horse of the three in that there are so many variables involved. However in general, the more powerful and well designed the cartridge/load, the better it is likely to perform this task. As a note, the /.380ACP is hard pressed to fill this bill, but in the right hands it certainly can do the job.

    What the above means is that you should only included candidates which have a proven track record and with which you can perform effectively enough to save your skin. Never skimp on quality.
    Now about your statement which I quoted above and your key words, "deep cover". Such a sidearm is largely going to be dependent upon your physical stature and dress. To me, deep cover equates to a sidearm which conceals to the point of being virtually invisible to even the close observer. The casual observer may not even notice a 1911 or a Glock 19 carried concealed but someone who is experienced almost always will. A deeply concealed sidearm becomes a ghost to most anyone.

    One handgun that comes to mind right away for your purposes is the M&P 9 Shield. Small, decent capacity, reasonably accurate for its size, easy to shoot, and quite reliable. Here is a writeup I did for this little gem. If you are of a mind to move up in size a little, more on your list will open up as viable possibles.
    A top candidate for stealthy concealment
    Wow.
    This is probably the best advice I have ever received on guns.
    Just as important, it is concise, well written, and grammatically correct.
    Thank you.
    Your post should be stickied.

    I also like the S&W M&P Shield.
    I have been to a couple gun stores this week and have held it twice to get the feel of it.
    Have read and watched several reviews and all were positive.
    It is certainly a candidate, and if not selected now, it is definitely on my radar for the future.

    It really is something just how many gun brands and models of all calibers and sizes there are.
    Everyone has an opinion and good information to share regarding their experience.
    I will update this thread in a few days as I intend to visit a few gun shops this weekend.

    Thank you again for your advice.

  20. #20
    Senior Member SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhillyCheese View Post
    Well said, man.
    I do appreciate your advice.



    Wow.
    This is probably the best advice I have ever received on guns.
    Just as important, it is concise, well written, and grammatically correct.
    Thank you.
    Your post should be stickied.

    I also like the S&W M&P Shield.
    I have been to a couple gun stores this week and have held it twice to get the feel of it.
    Have read and watched several reviews and all were positive.
    It is certainly a candidate, and if not selected now, it is definitely on my radar for the future.

    It really is something just how many gun brands and models of all calibers and sizes there are.
    Everyone has an opinion and good information to share regarding their experience.
    I will update this thread in a few days as I intend to visit a few gun shops this weekend.

    Thank you again for your advice.
    You're most welcome and thanks for the kind words.

    "Everyone has an opinion.."
    This is absolutely true. And what's good for Sam may not be right for Bob. This is why visiting a major gun show where you can handle a lot of different guns is a good idea and something I recommend. Just be careful that you stick with quality. It's like tires on your car. Don't skimp on quality... stay with a proven product.

    We all have different hand sizes, structures, and our dexterity plays a heavy roll. I have a good friend who has large hands and weak thumbs. Working his gen 4 Glock 17 slide and loading its magazines taxes him a bit. I have hinted that he needs to play* with his gun more (don't think he does this at all). There are so many factors involved in trying to find that perfect gun, which doesn't exist anyway. So we compromise.

    Find what feels best for you, that is a quality product, and that fits your specific wants, needs, and requirements for your particular purposes. I have several deep concealment guns and overall, I have determined that the M&P 9 Shield is the best of the lot. If I had to go even deeper, I would, and have, carried my Ruger LCP or perhaps my Kahr PM9, which I have also used. Take your time and enjoy the search.


    * Play with it here means to handle it, work it, disassemble it, and generally manipulate it for familiarization.
    Steve M1911A1 and denner like this.

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