Making Gun Choices – Comfort, Reliability, Power, Simplicity in that Order

Handguns, Semi Auto, 9mm, ammo, ammunition
Making Gun Choices – Comfort, Reliability, Power, Simplicity in that Order

USA – -( Switching gears here for this column I’m going to shy away from the politics of our right to bear arms this week. Why? Well, honestly I’m kind of sick of talking about or hearing about or even reading about the problems over at the NRA and the deceptive liars in the Democrat party, and frankly, every once in a while you have to put that crap down to stay sane, so here goes.

Recently I’ve moved into and out of a few guns. What I mean by that is I’ve recently traded a few firearms and freshened up my safe with some newer hardware. I love that!

I own a few firearms but nothing excessive (Unless you're a progressive gun-hater than I guess I have an extreme arsenal and nobody needs as many guns as I have). I mean, I own 21 handguns of various calibers and keep a stash of AR15’s, a few bolt actions and lever actions I use to hunt with, a few shotguns and a couple of AR pistols and my Thompson model TM1 “Tommy Gun” by Auto Ordinance – but it’s the handguns I want to focus on here. See, I actually use my guns, all of them for various things. My SW M&P 40 CT with Crimson Trace grips for example, usually rides with me every time I mow my lawn on the John Deere. I load it with CCI pest control or “snake shot” as I have a creek running through the “holler” at the back of AAR Ranch and here in Georgia, it ain’t uncommon to run up on a well-fed Copperhead or two. If I’m not carrying that, it’s usually the SW 686 Plus Revolver with the same loads. I dunno, sometimes I like the bigger gun. While I have a couple of favorite regular carry guns, I rotate all of them from time to time, because I can, and I love them all. Sometimes they need to know that!

I have a carry rig for every handgun I own, and I actually do carry a gun with me everywhere I go ever since I was forced to pull my sidearm on two miscreants back in 2002. That gun, by the way, was a Glock 36 Pistol, and thankfully the mere sight of its muzzle pointed directly at his face was enough to stop him and his partner from advancing any closer to me (funny how that works?). Recently, I made a trip to the gun shop with my father, who just turned 80 on March, 22nd; He wanted something a little easier to handle than the KAHR CW 9 he picked out of my lineup as a gift a few years back. He was having trouble with the slide and well, he’s 80 with some arthritis troubles, so off to the shop, we go. He settled on an SW 380 Shield EZ, and I welcomed the KAHR back to its home safe!

What inspired me to write this today was a comment I received from a friend who mentioned I should have “talked my father into a larger caliber” (My dad got the gun that worked for HIM, not something anyone else thought he might need).

That conversation reminded me of a column I penned for Human Events almost a decade ago where I discussed my four personal criteria for a carry gun. Here are those exact words I wrote ten years ago, and that I stand by today, in decending order.

  • 4: Be simple to use. Point and click, squeeze and bang. No levers, locks, bells, or whistles. Nothing that makes you think beyond pulling a trigger. This is a gun. It should be simple, and you should not have to worry about running a “system” when your life or the lives of your loved ones are on the line, and immediate action is required.
  • 3: Power. All guns are powerful. Don’t believe me? Stand in front of your little 22 LR and have someone pull the trigger. What? I didn’t think so. This is one area where I will challenge conventional wisdom. No one wants to get shot – by ANY gun of ANY caliber, especially criminals. Yes, you should always carry the largest and most powerful caliber that you can comfortably carry and shoot and if that happens to be a .22, good for you and BAD for whoever is on the receiving end!
  • 2: Reliability. You can carry the coolest custom gun in the world, but if your choice of a handgun doesn’t go POW when your booger hook squeezes the bang switch or the shot goes wide left like a peewee-football field-goal-attempt, it is worthless. Your gun MUST be reliable, and by reliable, I mean reliable right out of the box!
  • 1: Comfort. This is another area where I will also challenge conventional wisdom. We’ve all heard the words that a gun isn’t meant to be comfortable; it is intended to be comforting. While true, that is old school. Nowadays, it can be both. It is no longer necessary to lug around a 2-pound hunk of steel with only seven rounds (unless you want to).

From there, I went on to list my top ten favorite CCW guns. I won’t do that here as my choices from a decade ago have changed and I’m running out of space, but my criteria for deciding on a gun remain the same. If your choice of the gun fits those four, you’ll likely be more inclined to carry your firearm, regardless of what type of gun you chose that works for you, every day, all day, everywhere you go.

Remember – that little 22 NAA Pistol in your pocket is far better protection than that badass .45 Kimber sitting in your truck console.

About Mark WaltersMark Walters

Mark Walters is the host of two nationally syndicated radio broadcasts, Armed American Radio and Armed American Radio's Daily Defense with Mark Walters. He is the Second Amendment Foundations 2015 Gun Rights Defender of the Year award recipient and co-author of two books, Lessons from Armed America with Kathy Jackson (Whitefeather Press) and Lessons from UnArmed America with Rob Pincus (Whitefeather Press)

  • 12 thoughts on “Making Gun Choices – Comfort, Reliability, Power, Simplicity in that Order

    1. The only thing I might nit pic with this is that of a manual safety. I am old school and I like to have one. Many people don’t like them, and train without them, and that is perfectly safe for them. But the 1911 has a thumb safety, and it doesn’t take all that much to train to flick that off when drawing your weapon. The levers, locks, bells or whistles, comment, I suspect was speaking to that safety idea.
      I know millions of Glocks have been carried for years, with not a problem. True, but not by me. The same with revolvers, no safety on most of them, as well, with no problems. I get it, but like I said, I am old school and simply like the idea of a semi auto having at least a safety, if it is not a traditional double action. That doesn’t make me right, but it doesn’t make me wrong either. Just different.

    2. Years ago Ayoob had a few things necessary for a carry gun. I think that there were four but I can only remember three.
      1. It has to be a gun that you are going to have with you when you need it. A .22 in the hand is better than a .45 in the safe.
      2. Must be 100% reliable with the ammunition you are using. He came out with these when a lot of autos would only feed FMJ reliably.
      3. You must be able to hit your target with it. A hit with something small is better than a miss with something


    3. I have easily a half dozen handguns I carry open or concealed depending on a multitude of different factors. When a newbie asks me what gun they should get for EDC, I try to explain that there is no one answer I can give them. A firearm is a very personal choice, and they need to try different size, calibers, prices, and holsters just to get started. Their eyes get real big when I explain my multiple firearm carrying regimen, but it has taken me 36 years to get to this point.

    4. In my opinion, I think Mr. Walters delivered an excellent article to us. The only thing I could or would offer is that once you find that sweet spot of a handgun, is to shoot it often, train with it often, and maintain it. Next, find the self defense ammunition that feeds reliably in your handgun. Don’t just buy a self defense ammo load and not test it first before carrying it and then expect it to be as reliable as your other ammo.

    5. Last week I took my lady friend to try out her new S&W .380 EZ Rack. She loves it and it wasn’t long before she turned into Annie Oakley. I had to LOL because after about 50 rounds she turned to me and said – Nobody, I mean Nobody is going to take our guns away from us. Myself I carry a Spingfield XDs .45 and a backup Kimber Micro 9. I have to say though so far I’m not impressed with my Kimber. Furthermore, even a small gun in .22 magnum is going to put the hurt on a bad guy. Last of all – I’m only speaking for myself of course – the most comfortable gun I have ever held, owned and shot was A German Luger

    6. Just load the gun with hollowpoints of whatever caliber, problem solved. Unless of course your friend lives in New Jersey where they are a felony. In which case he has my deepest sympathy.

    7. Accuracy, hand fit, and reliability trump caliber. You can’t miss fast enough to win a gunfight. So, if you are faster, more accurate, and more handy with a .380, at dining room distances, more power to ya. Since legally, good guys can’t start gun fights, any gunfight you get into, as a good guy, you will be starting from second place. (Articulation of threat) So you need the fastest, most accurate gun you can have, to turn the tables, get fire superiority (stop the attack in the most efficient, and safe to you the good guy, possible manner) and get to go home safe, having protected your family. As your skill, and ability level increase, you can decide to go upgun, but I know many master shooters who went upgun initially, and are now going down to the .380 as their skillsets and performance allow. And the only practical gun, is the one you carry.

    8. I would move not comfort, but hand fit (semantics) to the head of the list. Reason- if the gun doesn’t fit your hand, “comfortably”, you won’t practice with it, you will never be very good with it, and you probably won’t carry it. On the other hand, you can take a second tier gun, that when you pick it up, you think- ahhh, this sure feels nice, and you will practice with it, shoot it, train with it, and carry it, all to your benefit. Plus, it’s cheaper to increase a guns efficiency, and reliability, than it is to improve it’s fit. Just look at a 1911!

    9. Everyone needs to carry what they are comfortable with. I own from .22 to .44 magnum, but just purchased a .380 EZ to carry due to arthritis in my hands. Had to get something I could grip to rack and could handle recoil without dropping gun.

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