Changing Your Carry Gun

When choosing a carry gun, most people have a number of factors they consider before taking the plunge. However something I feel needs to be addressed is what to do when you change your carry piece. In this video I run down a few ideas and considerations that seems pretty logical.

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Transcript …

– [Voiceover] Changing your carry gun is a big deal.

For many people around the world, your carry pistol is a last resort to stopping a threat that poses a danger to you or your loved ones.

For this reason, it is absolutely essential that the gun you choose is the best option for you personally.

There are so many choices out there, that a first time buyer may be overwhelmed by the amount of offerings on the market.

And some people may be restricted by law by what they can legally carry.

For example, in Mexico, if you obtain a license to carry, you’re limited by caliber.

In Italy, cartridges like nine millimeter are banned outright, but in, say, the Czech Republic, if you have a Category E license, you’re pretty free to carry a wide variety of firearms.

In the USA, there’s a huge difference in laws across the states, and they can get very confusing.

This, I suppose, highlights the difference between a Federal and Unitary government, but I am veering off course a little.

Essentially, the law and familiarity determine what a person can carry, but for the purpose of this video, I’m going to leave all options on the table.

So say you have a license to carry a gun, or live in a place where a license is not required.

Back in the day, your options were either the time tested, and much loved revolver, or a smattering of new automatics, mostly designed by a gentleman from Utah named John.

Americans stuck by their wheel guns largely until the 1980’s, preferring absolute reliability, and magnum cartridges to a few extra rounds in a magazine.

Europeans did use revolvers, but they were also happy to adopt small.32 ACP self loaders like this lovely Mauser, which is actually a Weimar Royal Constabulary gun.

So in the early days, the revolver versus the automatic for personal protection was a more serious debate.

Today, however, autos are much more dominant for concealed carry in the USA, and new autos are being introduced at a much faster rate than wheel guns.

The anomalies include the Chiappa Rhino, which our own James Reeves reviewed and loved, and the new Kimber K6S, which looks quite nice.

That said, look at the buzz that surrounded the Glock 42 and 43.

These things are killing it in sales, and I think that is indicative of what most people are looking for in a concealed carry gun.

So there are a bunch of choices, and if you’re watching this video, then you may well have a carry gun.

Never forget that this is a gun you should trust your life to, because, well, you essentially are.

It should be as reliable as possible, and I would never recommend carrying something that you do not have at least 500 rounds through to make sure it won’t let you down.

It should be accurate, and it should be comfortable.

So I catch a little flack from time to time because my go to piece is a P7, and not most recently released polymer subcompact number 587.

But you know why I carry that gun? Well, I have so many rounds through it, that I wouldn’t even know how to tally them up, and it has yet to malfunction, ever.

It shoots incredibly accurately, as anybody who has ever shot one will tell you.

And I can comfortably carry it in a holster that I really like.

I’ve also been carrying it and shooting it for five years, so suffice it to say I’m used to it.

There’s value in carrying something you are familiar with.

I would say more than a lot of people realize.

But say you want to make a change for some reason.

Nothing wrong with this, but I advise most people take a few steps.

I’ve seen too many people, a shocking amount really, buy a brand new, shiny carry gun, holster, and ammo all at once without shooting the gun, or even trying the holster, mind you.

In my opinion, this is about the worst thing you can do.

New guns get recalled all the time for all sorts of problems, including safety and reliability issues.

And not just small, or less than reputable outfits.

Remember that Glock recalled almost all Gen Fours.

And the new 17M has just been recalled as well.

But say your new carry gun is good to go.

Like I said above, fire it a lot.

Preferably, find the type of ammo you’re going to carry, and run it with that.

I know this will be pricey, but again, the stakes of a gun you’re trusting your life to are higher than one that will spend most of it’s life in a safe.

This is an investment in your safety, and possible your family’s.

So the price of a few boxes of expensive hollow points to make sure your gun works right with them is justifiable.

Too many people have bought a gun, had it work fine with ball, and then discovered it didn’t run with defense ammo on a one off range trip, and then looked at the mags reserved for carry filled with the hollow points with some fear in their eyes.

Don’t let that happen to you.

So in my humble opinion, be wary of changing your carry gun.

In a few short words, try a rental gun first to make sure it works for you, read or watch as many reviews as possible.

Do the same with holster reviews.

And when you buy a carry gun, shoot it as much as you can.

Special thank you to Ventura Munitions for making our videos possible, and a special thank you to you for watching.

Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


  • Art out West

    It is my understanding that the Czech republic does not allow people to carry hollow point ammo. To me, that makes regular 9mm a lot less appealing. In FMJ .380 or 9×18 Mak should do about as much damage as a 9×19 (and over-penetrate less). Therefore, I’d probably either step up to a caliber starting with a 4 or drop down to the shorter 9mm rounds (like and LCP in .380 or CZ82/83 in .380 or 9×18). Maybe wadcutters in .38 or .357 magnum revolver would be good as well.

    • Anonymoose

      I blame New Jersey for this.

    • AC97

      Excluding hollow-points, isn’t a Five-seven still a good choice for self defense? Although that’s assuming you could deal with carrying it around.

      • Anonymoose


      • PK

        I was perfectly happy carrying mine around for years, although given the choice a modern JHP is better. For those that can’t legally carry such ammunition, high velocity fragmenting bullets such as 5.7×28 uses would likely be the next best choice.

  • Harry’s Holsters

    People put to much thought into the gun itself. Glock 43, SW Shield, Walther PPS, XDs etc… Glock 19, XD, Walther PPQ, M&P, etc.. don’t really matter as long as it conceals well and is able to be shot well.

    Carry position, holster style and how those choices fit in with your daily lives.

    • Bill

      It boils down to the fact that there are very few actually “bad” guns made nowadays, and that 99.99999995 of carriers can’t wring the full potential from any gun, myself included.

      • Harry’s Holsters

        Me too and the better I get at shooting the more I realize if you can shoot you can shoot and if you can’t you can’t. A different gun won’t make the difference 99% of the time.

      • PK

        Agreed! Taking that into account, whatever you’re most comfortable/accurate with that is also reliable. It’s hard to find a bad modern JHP, too, luckily.

    • PK

      “as long as it conceals well and is able to be shot well.”

      Bingo. If it functions, conceals, and works for the user, go with that one. I like to remind people that pistols are pistols, rifles are rifles… pistols are almost all fairly weak in terminal effect, and many people get too caught up in exact caliber/brand. A reliable pistol and good, modern JHP, and that’s that.

      I’ve found myself perfectly happy with a wide variety of carry guns over the years, it’s getting quite difficult to make a bad selection in the modern market.

    • Paul White

      Yeah, there’s a lot of weenie wagging over it (even in this thread!) but really…buy it, shoot it enough to test it, carry it. Practice. There’s dozens or more models of perfectly good 9mms semi autos, .380 semi autos, snub nose revolvers, you name it.

  • Bill

    Finding a modern autoloader that wont feed and cycle modern ammo is getting rare. It’s still prudent to shoot some duty loads through a carry gun, but it isn’t the issue that it used to be in the previous century.

  • TechnoTriticale

    If you intend to carry in any manner that allows sweat to get on the weapon, it needs to be made of inert materials, including stainless steel, polymers, rubber (grips) or composites.

    Aluminum, even anodized, will pit badly, and, surprising rapidly. Carbon steels, even with what is initially a thorough protective coating, will rust sooner rather than later.

    Plan B is to clean the thing at the end of every sweaty day. Even stainless needs a periodic teardown.

    • Vizzini

      I normally agree and usually carry either a Glock 26 or Ruger LCR, which both meet those requirements. But my Kel-Tec P32 has been an exception. It has a polymer frame, but the slide is blued steel and has been very corrosion resistant. The only special thing I have to do aside from wiping down and periodic field strip and clean is make sure there’s a little oil under the extractor spring to repel moisture.

  • LG

    Follow the Law of Moses and never go astray. A bobtail commander sized 1911 in 45 ACP. If not have your two brothers with you, Smith and Wesson, in a Chiief’s Special Model 60. In the 9mm category, the H&K P7 is the top of the heap and the rest on the 9mm’s come in distant seconds.

    • ostiariusalpha

      That’s not a bad list, every one of those is an excellent sidearm.

    • DallasDoc

      I’m not as experienced as many of you Vets and Lt. Col.’s, so forgive me for asking; but, would you recommend a crew-served, belt fed, .30 cal or .50 cal. and fully auto or one of them thar new SA belt-fed machinka (I forget whose ad I saw for that new piece)? thank you for your kind attention and clarification to this matter.

      • iksnilol

        Get a PKM and a couple of spam cans, should work well 😛

      • LG

        I was being facetious. If one truly believes that either of the three weapons that I first mentioned can not stabilize a civilian situation, then by definition one is in a “fire fight” needing serous backup and support.

    • retfed

      I’ve said this before about the P7: It’s small, reliable, and the most accurate handgun I’ve ever fired; it’s like pointing your finger. (Here comes the “but”) . . .
      I can’t see the wisdom in carrying an irreplaceable, heirloom-quality gun for self-defense. If you ever have to use it, you’ll lose it for a long time, you may have to sue to get it back, and when (if) it is returned to you, it will be damaged, if not by sitting in a plastic bag while covered with blood or water for six months, at least by having someone’s initials and badge number permanently scratched on it.
      These days, a P7 is a range gun. For self-defense, a Glock, a 1911, or an M&P is the ticket. They’re just as reliable, and you can always get another one if you have to.

      • LG

        How much is one’s life worth? If one is content with second best, then so be it.

        • retfed

          But the guns I mentioned are not “second best;” 70% of law enforcement in the U.S. trusts their lives to the Glock alone. That’s my point. The P7 is more a fashion statement than a step up in reliability. No present-day LE or military organization carries it.
          I’ve been hearing “How much is your life worth?” for 40 years now, to justify the speaker’s personal choice, be it a 1911, a Hi-Power, a Glock 20, or whatever. It’s time to put it to rest. Any modern top-tier firearm will save your life, if you do your part.

    • TW

      Hk made a great gun in the P7. But I think their are guns just as good today. The Shield, g43, and XDS are all great guns that carry great. But at the end of the day everyone has to find what works for them.
      Me it is a M&P Shield 9 performance Center model.

  • Vizzini

    First thing to do is examine your carry gun carefully. Is it a Remington R51? If not, you’ve just won half the battle.

    • Harry’s Holsters

      That’s for the good laugh!

    • PK

      A similar procedure to confirm the absence of Jimenez/Jennings/Bryco is advised, as well.

      • Vizzini

        A ring of fire gun that’s still functional after all these years has a leg up over an R51!

    • TW

      Don’t get the hate on the NEW R51. Yes Remington messed up with the old one, but the new model just released shots like a dream for me.

      • Vizzini

        I’m glad that’s true for you. I’ve seen multiple range report videos on the NEW model that contradict that. I guess I am particularly annoyed at the R51 because I *wanted* to liked it very much.

  • Martin M

    I used to carry a pocket pistol, but I’ve switched to a Buntline ,45 (or Artillery Luger for special occasions). Would be assailants are repelled by the shear magnitude of their awesomeness. Plus I don’t get flak from haters since they’re positively ancient.

  • Paul B

    Only .02$ to add is that it’s usually a mistake to go with a gun very small + light for its chambering. Ti/SC frame snub or pocket autos are hard to shoot and tend to be finicky about what ammo they will reliably handle. Better to get a gun that is reliable, durable, accurate, and pleasant to shoot, and learn to live with the size + weight.

    For me–full size 1911 (steel frame, 5 inch barrel), G19, Browning Hi Power, all steel j frames are what works. And HK P7 if I get together the money some day ;-‘)

  • 22winmag

    I’m a rifle guy who believes handguns are good for little more than 1. robbing gas stations on Saturday night and 2. blowing your brains out on the battlefield when you’re badly shot up, surrounded, and your red-hot rifle is out of ammo.

    That being said, consider turning your hand-gun into a one-handed-rifle with Liberty Ammo. Seriously folks, it’s high time to let go of your 40 year old bullet and ammo technology. I rather enjoy the now rifle-like ballistics of my 10mm Witness (2450fps), .357 Speed Six (2050fps), and .40S&W Walther PPS (1875fps). I rather enjoy the reduced recoil and weight of said ammo and find it supremely accurate as well. Certainly, you are welcome to dismiss it as expensive, gimmicky, loud, or whatever in your quest to cling to decades old bullet and ammo technology.

    • iksnilol

      Well, you see, to get these velocities you lose weight. And weight does play a role in cartridge performance.

    • Bob

      I’m sure a lot of criminals that have looked down a newly unconcealed pistol barrel would like the rest of the US to agree with you. A ridiculous number of violent crimes have ended because the good guy whipped out a pistol and the bad guy decided he had somewhere more important to be.

  • Anonymoose

    What about a snub-nosed .45-70 BFR?

    • Jim_Macklin

      An Alaskan version of a Ruger 480 [.475 bullet] isn’t legal but the same gun in 454 is. A S&W 460 is more powerful than the 45/70 and more portable.

      • Anonymoose

        Eh, I wouldn’t want to get shot by either, but a heavy .45-70 with modern fast-burning powders could potentially outperform .460, as it has a larger case capacity. If you want to get even more ridiculous, there are a .458 WinMag barrels for the TC Encore. Practically speaking though, you’re not going to make the robber/rapist/murderer any more deader by going beyond a Glock 36 or 30S, 1911, or P220, etc in regular .45ACP. If we’re going impractical and overpowered (and illegal in OK), I’d like to get a .480 Alaskan and get a 5-shot .475 Linebaugh cylinder for it so I can have a pocket flamethrower.

        • Jim_Macklin

          I don’t want to get shot with a Red Ryder BB gun. But to get rational, power has to be balanced with portability, conceal ability, control ability and affordability.
          I carry a Colt Officers ACP 45ACP because that’s what I bought 30 years ago. Today I might buy a 9mm but I probably would stick with a 1911 because it feels right in my hand.
          Hollywood almost never gets firearms right. Dirty Harry selected a Winchester Model 70 458 Winchester as as a counter sniper urban sniper rifle. The S&W 44 Magnum wasn’t a really good choice for a detective. Laura Croft has a pistol with a muzzle device that increases recoil. The Lone Ranger wasted silver on bullets. I didn’t know they had vampires in the Old West!
          It is like Bond Arms is really better for a farmer to kill rats in the barn with #9 shot in a .410 but a 38 or 357 LCR is a better choice for personal defense.
          She has her fingers ON the triggers too.

          • Anonymoose

            Silver bullets are for werewolves, not vampires. That’s a misunderstanding popularized by Underworld and other newer, crappy vampire franchises.

          • Jim_Macklin

            I tend to like SUPERNATURAL with silver being for wraiths and shape shifters. . Vampires are killed by chopping their head off. Vamps can also go out in the Sun.
            But Buffy and her sister …

  • jerry young

    I recently changed my carry gun for a few reasons 1 is the size of the gun, my first was too small to be anything more than defensive use only, 2 hard to shoot accurately beyond 15 to 20 feet and 3 for that same reason it shot ball ammo very well but defensive ammo was hit or miss and the type it shot well is expensive, I did switch to a full sized 9mm from a sub compact 380, I actually started with a different full sized 9mm with an off the rack holster but it was too ackward, the first thing I did was have a custom holster made, I switched from outside the waist band to inside but kept the position as close to what I was use too as possible and practice my drawl as often as possible.

    • retfed

      “. . . [T]oo small to be anything more than defensive use only.” What constitutes a legal, offensive use of a handgun? Hunting? Pest control? Inquiring minds . . .

      • Paul White

        people do hunt with handguns but I don’t get why/how I’d conceal any handgun I’d hunt game with.

        • retfed

          That’s what I meant. A .subcompact 380 is meant to be a defensive weapon. People who use .380s non-defensively are generally known as “criminals.”

          • Bob

            Well, I don’t know about the legality of hunting with it, but at close range I could take out small game with my Makarov PM. Quite accurate for a cheap handgun with Wolf or Tul ammo. I’d feel comfortable trying to take off a rabbit’s head with it and 9×18 Mak is close to .380 +P after all, though we are talking close range, 10-15 yards type thing.

          • Jim_Macklin

            Or plinkers… criminals use whatever they can steal.

          • retfed

            You’re right.
            I was, of course, referring to non-defensive use against people. I’ve target shot and plinked with .380s (remember the old OMC/AMT single-action Backup? Damn, I’m old!), and they’re fun for that, with next to no recoil. I wouldn’t want to shoot anything bigger than a rabbit with one, and I wouldn’t be sure enough of shot placement to insure a clean, humane kill even on Bugs, given the sights and trigger on almost every .380 I’ve ever shot. (The best .380 I ever shot was the old Beretta 84, and I might try to off a bunny with that, though. I quit shooting .380s around 1982. Maybe the new ones are better.)

      • jerry young

        Paul answered your question with the best answer, I as a law abiding citizen use my guns only for their intended use, protection target shooting and hunting and collecting I also stated my 380 in question was a sub compact, there are specific calibers that you can use for hunting where I live, some guns are made to be for defensive use only that would be the ones with non adjustable non replaceable sights of course you could target shoot or hunt with any gun if you really needed too, small guns like my subcompact 380 are meant for self defense, meant to be carried a lot and shot a little, I do have larger framed 380’s that I target shoot with and I use to carry but I switched up to the 9 and if a 45 had a better capacity I’d carry that! I still on occasion carry my little 380 when concealment is an issue but not often.

  • PK

    “Oklahoma the 50 GI cartridge in a 1911 or Glock is not legal for carry”

    What? Oklahoma has caliber restrictions on concealed carry? How strange!

    • iksnilol

      In Norway, pistols/revolvers over 46 in caliber are banned. Because getting killed with a .500 S&W is worse than getting killed with a .32 or something.

      • PK

        That’s absurd as well. Obviously the answer is to take the .500 S&W, neck it down to .459″, and sling a bullet out at supersonic velocities. Make it nice and compact and you have a single shot that gets rid of itself!

        • iksnilol

          Wut? No, you just use a .460 S&W.

          • PK

            Can’t we scale up an AK action to 12.7x108mm, neck down the 12.7×108 to around 11.6mm for legality, and make a proper self defense pistol with some real energy? Sure, it would have to be 30lbs and a meter long, but…

  • PK

    That’s nonsensical. Why is such a law on the books? In Oklahoma of all places!

    • Jim_Macklin

      Because they have Okie legislators, some are DEmocrats

  • TC

    We all know there is only one handgun for concealed carry. Make my day.

  • retfed

    So, I can’t carry my .58 Harpers Ferry for self-defense? Nonsense!
    (I’m kidding, of course, but I’m still curious: Caplock revolvers are popular in parts of Europe for self-defense, since they don’t require licensing. Does “ammunition” only mean “metallic cartridge,” or would I have to carry my LeMat with the 20-gauge barrel empty.)

    • Jim_Macklin

      Ammunition is constitutionally an ARM since when the British attempted to confiscate arms from the Patriots April 19, 1775 at Concord and Lexington, gunpowder, flints and billets of lead as well as muskets, swords and bullet molds were all on the list.
      The Bill of Rights was written to prevent any future attempts to confiscate arms or to infringe on teh right. In 1789 the Senate rejected a proposal to insert the words FOR THE COMMON DEFENSE into the draft. That was probably the only means the Senate had to establish the legislative intent of the individual right.

      As for why such a silly restriction? Simple the average legislator thinks bullet diameter [caliber] defines power and it makes a little [very little] sense that in a city where going armed excessive power is a danger to people a mile away. Of course we know that typical handgun calibers such as 45 ACP, 9 mm Luger [9x19mm] and 45 Colt are traditional handgun calibers for self-defense from humans and animal other than grizzly bears. But 454 and 460 S&W are 45 caliber.

      Cap & ball arms are NOT “firearms” under the 1938 and 1968 Firearms Acts. The LeMat was all cap & ball and muzzle loader, including the 20 gauge barrel. Of course a .380 or 9mm is a better choice for 21st Century carry. The 9mm, 10mm and 45 ACP are legal in Oklahoma. The 50 GI is not Oklahoma legal for carry concealed [not sure if that also applies to open carry which is a new Oklahoma law. The 50 GI has less penetration than than the 9mm, 10mm and most 45 ACP loads. So it should be allowed logically but there are very few 50 GI guns nationwide.
      45 ACP and 50 GI with rebated rim

      • retfed

        Cap and ball arms are not “firearms” under Federal law, but they are under some state laws. That’s why I asked the question. (In some states, BB guns are “firearms.” So be careful where you take your Daisy. I’m not kidding about that.)

        • Jim_Macklin

          Laws vary from state to state and sometimes even cities and counties decide to regulate and redefine everything from legal knives to firearms and even self-defense laws on use of force.
          The spring powered Daisy can shoot your eye out but if eye protection is used, they are very safe. But a 5mm Sheridan pneumatic can put a pellet through an aluminum propane torch tank and could be lethal on a human, certainly lethal on rats and birds out to 30 yards or so.
          Legislators run for office using their children and spouse , a membership in a church or social group and when elected have to decide highway speed limits, appropriate fines, marriage and tax laws, building codes and airport zoning. Often they don’t have a technical staff .
          Bruce Lee made KungFu movies and several states made possession of a butterfly knife a felony. At least a butterfly knife gives sonic warning if it is flipped. At least Kansas has decriminalized knives

  • Bob

    What? No “I’m Alex C.”? I feel cheated…

  • 3of11

    I agree but I run 200 rounds FMJ as break in (malfunctions don’t count here). Then 200 hollows (malfunctions = sell). Also I use dedicated magazines (test each magazine that is dedicated to carry equally). Also test one handed for limp wrists. No cleaning until passed this test. And put another 25 hollows after cleaning. Then it gets loaded and never unloaded or taken apart with same hollow brand. Every 6-12 months or so. I shoot about 50 hollows through it (the ones that I’ve carried in the dedicated mags and a few more). Clean and fire a few more. Go easy on the lube. Mags get sold or “practice” every 5 years or so. After 2000 rounds or so… Sell/Replace.

    Get a second gun… Used or failed Different color. Mags for it only… Mark baseplate “P”. This is your practice gun. Run cheapest steel cased or reman ammo you can find. Don’t worry about caring too much for it. If it jams a little that’s fine. Practice clearing them.