The End is Nigh

Since the beginning of Spring, the focus here on the Lounge has been on the topic of concealable firearms.

We’ve gone down a couple of rabbit trails here and there, but in general, we’ve mostly talked about carry guns, handgun self-defense tips, and even some stuff about concealable rifles. Today is the last official post of that series. Topics related to concealed carry guns will definitely still be a big part of the Lounge, but we’ll also be spending some more time with long guns and some shooting topics not directly related to carry and self-defense.

The Rejects: Concealed Carry Pistols I Gave Up Carrying

As a wrap-up for the series, I thought I’d let you guys in on a little background about my personal carry gun history, so maybe you can learn a thing or two from some of the mistakes I made in the last decade or so.

S&W Model 36
The S&W Model 36: When you absolutely, positively, don’t want any rear sights.

The very first gun I carried after I got my permit was a nickel plated Smith & Wesson Model 36. This is the old school all steel frame .38 special snub nose. I couldn’t shoot it very well, and it was a heavy thing to carry around for only having five shots. Also, it wasn’t even mine, it was my dad’s. So I gave that back and I went looking for something of my own with a little more firepower.

Beretta PX4
There’s more airbrushing in this Beretta product photo than on all of the magazine covers at the grocery store checkout line combined.

And that ended up being a Beretta PX4 Storm 9mm. This was right when they first came around 2005. It’s a good gun, and I liked a lot of things about it, but compared to the revolver, it was really big and bulky and I just couldn’t find a good way to conceal it, which probably had a lot to do with the cheap holster that I had for it.

East German Makarov PM
East German Makarov sitting on a beautiful bed of surplus .30-06 ammo because… that’s all I had sitting around when I took this in 2006.

I kept the Beretta for a while longer, but quit carrying it and picked up a pristine surplus East German Makarov PM. My thinking was that it’s a double action/single action just like my Beretta, it’s just a little smaller. What I found out later is that unlike the Beretta, the sights were small and hard to see and the double action trigger was really stiff.

I thought I had a really nice picture of the actual 442 that I owned. Turns out I had a really nice thumbnail of a picture that I took with the best resolution a camera phone from 2006 had to offer. We’re all better off with this stock image from S&W.

So at the time, I guess I figured if I was going to carry a gun with sights I couldn’t see and a heavy trigger, then it might as well be light and easier to carry. So I went back to a snub nose, but this time I got the S&W 442, which is just like the Model 36 but there’s no hammer, and it has a light aluminum frame. It was really easy to carry and very comfortable, but a bear to shoot. The recoil on those things is just not fun, so I didn’t practice with it and never got very good at shooting it.

Kahr CW9
If you click this image for the high-res version, you can see one of the key features of every used CW9 I’ve ever seen: the ability to collect toe-jam-like crud in between the slide serrations.

So then I moved on to what I would say was my first carry gun that actually made sense, and that was a Kahr CW9. I say it made sense because by that time, I actually knew what factors to really consider when I was picking it out. I knew I needed something I could carry comfortably, conceal easily, and actually shoot well. And the Kahr worked fairly well for me for all three of those things.

I did eventually get rid of it because I could never really get used to the weird light double action on the Kahr pistols. I also found that the double stack M&P9 compact was not any longer in the grip or the barrel on the Kahr, and the extra width didn’t make it much harder to carry. With higher ammo capacity and a better trigger, the M&P has been my main carry gun for the last several years.

Smith & Wesson M&P9c
My current carry and frequent model here on the Lounge: the Smith & Wesson M&P9c with Crimson Trace Lasergrips carried in a Custom Carry Concepts “Looper” holster.

I’ve tried carrying a few other guns on and off since then (most notably, the Walther PPS and M&P Shield, both functionally similar to the M&P9c), but I keep coming back to the M&P compact. I have a lot of trigger time with it by now, and with that has come a lot of confidence in the gun and in my ability with it.

The Takeaway

Here’s the kicker: All of those “rejects” were actually pretty good concealed carry guns. They were reliable, well-made, and chambered in decent self-defense cartridges. The problem wasn’t that they were bad guns, it was that they weren’t quite right for me, but I was too inexperienced to know that without a lot of annoying (and expensive) trial and error.

If I could give one piece of advice for picking out a carry gun after all of that, it would be to learn as much as you can about actually carrying and using a gun for self-defense before you start trying to find the mythological “perfect” carry gun. In the beginning, I was all wrapped up in learning everything I could about just the guns themselves. That’s a lot of fun, but I had a hard time putting that knowledge in context and knowing what it would be like to carry them. I wasn’t spending nearly enough time practicing, nor was I going out of my way to read up on things like what a good holster or gun belt can do for you, or why it’s helpful to have a carry gun with a good trigger and sights.

So if you’re still trying to find the right carry gun, stop shopping for guns and start trying to learn how to shoot better, and you’ll have a much easier time figuring out what is going to work best for you.


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  • Natasha C. McClure

    My Springfield XD45 gets the same toe jam looking stuff in the slide serrations as the Kahr. Lol. It drives me nuts.

  • Glen Smith


  • Hammerhead Eagle I-thrust

    No Beretta Nano? Aside from the long trigger pull its been flawless for me.

  • Kendall Hart

    I prefer the glock 27 subcompact 40 s&w 9 round magazine. It’ll fit in the front pockets of any pair if pants, it’s light, decent sights, perfect for ME.

  • Ryan Wood

    Sig p290?

  • Paul Dragotto


  • Robert Monaco

    very well put i like the ppks 380

    • Ted Fisher

      I have Walther PK380 nice winter CCW little big summer? looking into SW MP380 or the new Glock 380?

  • Jr N Gail Allen

    I prefer the Ruger LC9. Easy to carry and conceal and is light enough. I have put a lot of rounds through it. Love it.

  • Danny Boone

    I really like the M&P just .40 please.

  • Ed Ridgeway

    M&P .40c very comfortable concealed firearm

  • Brian Keklock

    Mine is a smith and wesson m&p shield 40 caliber…. Nice weapon, easily concealed and I shoot well with it….Looking at a few other guns….. I have a Glock 27…. But it’s fussy… The smith eats any round I feed it, with no jams

  • Thor Wotanson

    The fullsize PX4 is indeed a good open carry duty pistol. The subcompact is what you want in a CCW pistol. You can even put a laser on it.

  • Jason Jones

    xds .45 4 me…

  • Patrick McNeff

    Sig p938

  • George Loveless

    I love my Sig P938. It’s a carry gun that you can actually like to practice with

  • Leon Hardy

    Glock 30SF

  • Mulholland Bob

    always go to a store that allows you to test and see how it fits your needs.

  • Steven Moutoux

    Beretta PX 4 Compact. Most comfortable gun I have found so far and is easy to carry, but doesn’t have that thin grip of a sub-compact! I don’t have huge hands, but it fits mine to a tee. I showed it to my son (who also has all kinds of hand guns, and he had to get one for a conceal carry weapon. At 40 caliber, it doesn’t give away anything either. Would highly recommend it.

    • Ptolemy Pahlavi

      The PX4 Subcompact and Compact are very similar, but the subcompact just has a tilting bolt rather than a rotating bolt and is quite a bit shorter barrel – but the same width. It’s more pleasant to carry but honestly I find it’s less pleasant to shoot – the problem I seem to have with all subcompacts.

  • Brian Kelley

    My carry is Glock 26 with the mag extension

  • Jeff Griffin

    Walther ppx great gun great original grip.Also with double stack mag holds 15 rounds.Love this gun.I think a lot of people just haven’t given it enough looks.

  • Terry Mitchell

    Just settled on a S&W M&P 40,
    Feel, balance & a 15 Rnd. Mag. Is perfect fit…

  • Jessie Pittman

    .357 Taurus ,15 yds and dead meat ,and yes it took me 6 mos. to get used to carrying the heavy revolver, but with 180 grn.xtp bullet,2grns. below max. powder ld. will take care of bout anything,and definitely need the wt. to off-set the re-coil.

  • Steve Voss

    At 6’2″ I like a LW Commander in 38 Super.

  • Rod Lupo

    sig p 938

  • Kendall Dealy

    Why choose only one? I have several that I choose from, depending on the situation or what I’m wearing.

  • Liston Matthews

    For me, its gonne du jour.

  • Cody Stephens

    XDs .45

  • Paul Averill

    Glock 42 380

  • Bill Johns

    also own a 642 w/ctc grips,love it,can shoot well w/it in expected range [21ft] tried the ruger LC9, too unreliable,just ordered a Glock 33,already fired one,great gun! same round as federal air marshalls carry,500 ft lbs energy w/ the right ammo.

  • Jae Crandall

    Sig P250c in 40. The right leather makes all the difference. I continue to shop for other pieces, and it’s so helpful to me to read when other remind me that ” It was really easy to carry and very comfortable, but a bear to shoot. The recoil on those things is just not fun, so I didn’t practice with it and never got very good at shooting it.” I had a Charter Arms .38 at one point, and it was ironically too light for me. I would constantly panic, thinking it was falling out of the holster. It was so light that even 38 target ammo was too enthusiastic to be easily controllable. The longer I have carried, it’s true, no one notices, and no one cares. I second that M&Pc, that one is on my short list, without a safety.

  • John Patterson

    Daily mp9c carry. Perfect for….me….

  • omnihorn

    Carry a Taurus 24/7 in 9mm with a 17+1and spare mag of 17 rds it carries easilywith a versa holster

  • IanZeikos

    Walther P99 QA with Talon Grips and Meprolight Tru Dot’s – IWB Aliengear, OWB IMI Roto paddle and spare magazine – it isn’t too big. I’m 170lbs 6’0″ and carry it 365 days a year. Next is a Walther PPS. Love paddle magazine releases.

  • Rick Martin

    Walther PPQ M2, love it, carried it for a year now, put 1200 trouble free rounds through it … I have the 15+2 mags, and I don’t know why they call it that, but I carry with a full mag and one in the chamber? It has tru Dot’s and talon grips. The last couple of months, I’ve used an IWB Alien 2.0, Also, I have CCW Safe insurance! I try to get to the range every other week and I clean it afterwards! My confidence rises with every round! It is a fun gun to shoot!

  • Mark D

    Great tips. Keep them coming. I carry xds with 9 round mag thin and accurate

  • Hot Shot

    Great information. To the point. Basic but good information. Not commercialized. Glad to be an active participant. Keep it going.

  • Hot Shot

    Carry a Glock 19, chambered round and full mag. I add 1 inch to my belt and an out shirt or a tuck in the waistband.

  • randy crawford

    Glock 29. Shoots 10 mm ammo from 420 ft-lbs to 1,015 ft-lbs, your choice (see selections on Factory magazine = 10 rounds, but another Glock OEM option = 15 round mag. You can even make it into a 20 round magazine with a mag extension, e.g. from Arredondo or (or maybe Lucky Gunner can fix you up too). Factory barrel of 3.77 inch can be extended to 4.60 (with or without ports) inch from Lone Wolf, or even a 6-inch barrel. If you don’t want to use 10mm ammo, drop-in conversion barrels e.g. from Lone Wolf will let you shoot .40 SW or .357 Sig or 9mmx25 Dillon ammo instead, then switch back in seconds. So, the Glock 29 gives you half a dozen pistols or more in one, if you invest a little in this or that additional tinker-toy option. The Viridian C-series lasers work great to give you white light across the scenery, and a green or red LED aiming point. With the Viridian TacLoc holsters, the light & laser is off in the holster, but turns itself on automatically as soon as you draw.

  • When I initially went for a CCW weapon I thought about the Shield. After handling it and seeing how light it was with regard to capacity, i settled for the M&P 9C as you have pictured above.

  • Michael Bascon

    why is their a picture of the Smith and Wesson M&P as the link to this article, I was expecting to see that gun on the list – in a sense I am glad I didn’t since I just bought one

  • Philip Shinaver

    I carry a Sig P-239, DA/SA 40 Cal. , Bought it new 10 Yrs. ago, with crimson trace grips. I carry in a fanny pack or in a Biachi hip holster depending on what we are doing for the day, but I try to always carry.. Its been a very reliable hand gun and it really feels like right when shooting. 7 in the Mag. + 1 in the pipe makes 8 and that’s how I carry it. I just bought the 357 Sig barrel and I’m looking forward to giving it a try. The only thing you have to change is the barrel ..

  • RWest

    My first pistol I bought when i got my CC license was a M&P shield 9. Then I bought a kahr K9, which like yourself, for a carry gun made perfect sense as far as safety, reliability, accuracy. The K9 is a excellent choice for conceal carry… But for some reason I keep coming back to my M&P shield 9… Overall I feel it offers the best balance of concealability, weight, accuracy & reliability.