Came home from an afternoon of errands and took off my carry gun, and thought maybe some of you would be interested in a short discussion on carry guns.
I've been carrying a pistol on and off since 1990, first as an armed protection officer and bodyguard, and since then as a private citizen with a concealed carry permit. During that time I've owned about a dozen different handguns. During that time I've put together a short list of "rules".
1.) Carry legally. If you want to carry a handgun, get a permit. Sure, you might get away with it for a long time, but you don't want to do time.
2.) Find a handgun that's comfortable to shoot and to carry. If the grip isn't comfortable, or recoil is unmanageable, you won't want to shoot it, and you want to shoot any gun you carry enough to be able to aim, fire, and reload without thinking much about it. On the other hand, a gun that is great to shoot may be too heavy or uncomfortable to wear all the time. The first rule of gunfighting is "have a gun". Your tack driving .45 auto isn't going to do you any good if you're getting mugged and it's sitting in your glove compartment 2 blocks away.
The best way to find a gun you like is to try out handguns owned by friends. Some ranges also have rental pistols available to try out, so you can test out ones that you like. As far as the semi automatic vs. revolver argument, choose whichever one you are more comfortable with. The average shots fired in a defensive scenario is about 3, so a 5 or 6 shot revolver is going to be just fine, especially if you have a speedloader in a pocket.
3.) You are going to end up owning a few different holsters. Some work better in different outfits, and some may look nice in a package but drive you nuts when you start wearing them. Whichever holster or holsters you end up using, practice drawing your unloaded pistol from the holster in a variety of clothing so it becomes second nature to ou. In the fall I always do some extra practice drawing with a coat on, since all summer long I don't wear a jacket.
4.) Your goal is to live. If someone gets the drop on you and wants your purse or your wallet, don't hesitate on handing it over. Your primary goal is going home, not shooting a bad guy or being a hero. Give the guy what he wants and get away alive. If you fear for your life then do what you need to do, but I'm not going to risk dying over the cash in my wallet.
5.) You aren't a police officer. When you carry a pistol, you are doing so to defend your life and the lives of people with you. If you see someone breaking into a car call the police and let them handle it. If you confront a guy with a slim jim and end up shooting him, you're the one who's going to end up in a police station answering a lot of questions and calling an attorney.
6.) Practice shooting. Most places have an IDPA club somewhere nearby, so you can practice shooting in multiple scenarios. If you don't have the time for that, hit a range at least once every 3 months and shoot off a box of shells. Practice makes perfect.
7.) Stay in condition yellow. A good description of the levels of awareness is here:
Being aware of your surroundings is how you avoid being a victim. Criminals look for easy targets. If you're walking down the street, observant to what's going on, and actually looking at the guy standing there, most likely they'll let you by and wait for the person not paying any attention.
Another thing that goes along with condition yellow is trusting your instincts. If someone standing a half block away makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, there's probably a reason, Cross the street.
Hope this helps out anyone who's considering getting a CCW. If not, rule number 7 is a good thing to follow even in situations where you aren't armed.