Equipping and Training: 4 Tips for Getting Good With Your Concealed Carry Weapon

So you've got a concealed carry license? That's just the beginning. In order to be fully prepared to defend yourself (within the bounds of the law), you will need a lot more.

Last week, I wrote "Fashion and Function: Six Tips for Carrying a Concealed Handgun." That article was about the necessary clothing and holster considerations you need to make to carry your concealed firearm. But there is more you need to know and do to prepare — a lot more. Here are four tips you will need to make good use of your concealed firearm.

1. Get the right gun.

Take your time and get the right gun for you. I know that sounds pretty obvious. But what I mean is do not settle for some gun that was passed down to you, or something you got because it was a "great deal." Make sure the pistol you purchased is a quality firearm that is dependable. Good quality names such as Glock, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Sig Sauer, Springfield, Heckler & Koch, Kahr — these are some of the top quality brands I usually recommend. Remember, you get what you pay for.

Also, make sure the caliber of the gun is something you can handle. (Some gun stores have a range where you can rent various caliber firearms and test them out.) Some people are more fragile than others, and the biggest thing they can accurately shoot is a .22 caliber. That is fine. A .22 caliber gun is better than no gun.

Don't let people pressure you into buying a gun that shoots .40 caliber or .45 ACP if you feel that you cannot adequately control it. While it may be tough to bring down a determined foe with a .22, they will still die if you shoot them in the head with that caliber. I usually recommend nothing smaller than the .380 Auto, but whatever you can accurately shoot and put rounds on target is fine.

Should I shoot a revolver or a semi-auto? Again, whatever you can accurately shoot and feel the most comfortable with. Revolvers are great in that it is rare for them to malfunction, but they have fewer rounds to shoot (usually only five or six), and they generally take more time to reload. Many semi-autos can throw out a lot of lead real fast, and you can reload them in a heartbeat, but they can jam. Pick one and get real good with it.

2. Train, train, train. You must train.

So you got your concealed carry license. Congratulations! And now you're going to carry a loaded gun around for protection. But if you do not train on a regular basis, you are asking for trouble. Shooting is a depreciable skill. That means, if you don't practice and practice and practice, you will lose the skill. And in a defensive encounter you MUST shoot accurately or innocent lives may be harmed.

Everyone is pressed for time, so I recommend you put on your calendar at least one day a month to go to the range. Shoot at least two boxes of ammunition (100 rounds total). At least. Of course, the more you practice, the odds are the better you will become.

Next Page: Training at the range is not enough.