Life is full of opportunitites to bring too much firepower. I started out with a Sig Sauer P220, which is a 45 ACP pistol. The cartridge is world renowned, and has been ever since John Browning invented the 1911 pistol. It is a great handgun. It never fails and it is accurate even in my shaky hands. I carry it in a Galco Miami Classic holster, and it is easy to conceal with a flannel shirt. The weight reminds me to stay alert. It is easy and fast to draw–with practice I can do two shots on a target, reload, and fire off two more shots on a second target in around 12 seconds. The recoil is minimal. It is a heavy handgun with a locking breech action–as an automatic, some of the recoil is absorbed by the spring. Also, even though the rounds are big whompers, full of heavy lead, they are also subsonic; they travel less than 1000 feet per second.
Still, it is a big handgun, and I wanted something easier to conceal, something I can carry while I’m wearing shorts. I also wanted a smaller handgun for my wife, something that she might someday be willing to carry with her. I am not such a fool that I think she is going to strap a holster to her thigh (although that would be hot) and I am not a fan of purse carry. I’ve been in her purse, and I wouldn’t want to dive through that looking for anything fast. That’s just asking for an accident to happen.
Research says that the 9mm is the way to go. It is a lighter, faster round, capable of shooting further distances. It is a proven manstopper, maybe not quite as effective as the 45 ACP, but with the added advantage of extra rounds in the clip. Some 9mm handguns with double stack magazines hold up to 18 rounds. The lighter round also allows for smaller, lighter handguns, and 9mm is one of the easiest to find and least expensive of the centerfire ammunitions.
In recent years, the 380 ACP cartridge invented in 1908 has seen a resurgance in pocket pistols, that is, super small, light weight pistols that are easy to conceal and still pack ammunition with enough punch to so some damage. These have been a sort of fad item. Many claim that they are underpowered. Pistols chambered in this round have enjoyed huge sales in recent years with the proliferation of shall issue carry permits. An example is the James Bond pistol, the Walther PPK, although he (fictionally) used his with a .32 caliber cartridge, which has even less power. Let’s think about that for a minute. Ian Fleming wanted something that his character could hide in a dinner jacket, that would provide excellent accuracy, and allow him to get the job done unobtrusively. We, on the other hand, are American. We are fascinated with power. We want Texas sized power, a Desert Eagle .50 cal or a Dirty Harry .44 Magnum. When we shoot something, we want it to know it was shot, and we want everyone else to know it too.
That’s not really the goal with a concealed weapon. A concealed weapon, to my mind, should be more in the James Bond vein. Easy to hide, easy to get to, and easy to use. If I’m in a situation where I need it, I have probably already been knocked down, and I’m trying a counter punch to survive. I don’t need to be able to bring down an elephant. If I’m ever in a firefight where I need a lot of bullets, God forbid, like zombies are coming into the back yard, I’m not going to mess around with a pistol at all. I’m going for my Mini-14. It has a red dot Eotech scope and ammo that can pierce steel plate. I can hit a target from two hundred yards away with it, a hundred yards off hand (with no support.) No pistol will do that.
For personal protection, I chose the Sig Sauer P238 for both of us. It is small enough that I will actually carry it. That’s the most important consideration. It can’t help me from the nightstand unless I’m at home. A Sig Sauer is a more expensive handgun, but it’s also a trusted name for me. It is a beautiful firearm and will last a lifetime. It is a locking breech weapon, not required with the 380 ACP, but it reduces the recoil to almost nothing. That is one of the most important considerations for me. If a gun hurts to shoot, then neither I nor my wife will practice with it enough to be proficient. It has a thumb safety, which means it can not be fired without two things happening, even when a round is chambered–the safety must be deactivated, and the trigger must be pulled. That makes me feel safe when I have it in my holster. It is fun to shoot, which means it is fun to practice with, a vital trait in any weapon I would have in my home. It only holds seven shots, but that’s plenty. We don’t live in a war zone. If I need more I will be relying on my Mini-14, which also has low recoil, meaning that Kim can also shoot it accurately and quickly.
I wouldn’t feel comfortable relying on the P238 for anything more than about 12 yards out, but that’s the job it is designed for, and for that job it is perfect.