Before we get started, I need to get something out of the way. TFB readers are the smartest, most handsomest human beings on the planet. But in any group there is a small, but extremely vocal sub group who simply cannot get their heads around ideas like relative differences. So when I say that small pistols suck, and when I tell you that I mean that in relation to carrying a larger gun they will predictably make specious comments about IWB M240B. If you actually did have to choose between carrying a tiny gun or no gun at all, carrying a tiny gun would obviously be better. But that’s rarely the choice for grownup men who don’t dress like they’re headed to the basketball court every day. If you want to wear pants, shorts, or a even a skirt (please don’t insult our intelligence by insisting on calling it a kilt) that’s your business, of course. But if your chosen attire has belt loops and if you’re not wearing your wife’s shirts, you can probably carry a larger gun than you think.
Of course, ladies have different wardrobe concerns than men. They typically can’t wear clothing that fits as loosely as men can without looking dumpy. That doesn’t change the hard fact that carrying a larger gun is still better. It just means that females have to work a bit harder to carry a bigger gun on their person.
Now, please don’t misunderstand my point here. It is true that 9mm 124 gr Gold Dot is more terminally effective than any .32 Auto load, but the difference is not profound. Both are still just pistols. It’s the “shootiness” a bigger gun offers that’s the important part. Given the same caliber, a longer sight radius and greater mass contributes to faster, more accurate shooting. Bigger guns aren’t just able to carry more powerful ammunition, they are better at the things that actually win fights: poking a lot of holes in the right bits quickly. Of course, that same argument applies to carrying a larger gun all the way up through a 20″ AR-15, but there is a point where carrying a bigger gun does get to be impractical. You probably don’t need me to tell you, but I will anyway, that carrying a 20″ rifle slung at all times is rather inconvenient. To put it mildly.
Still, most folks who think they need to carry a smaller gun, actually only need to use a proper belt and holster. Sure, if you need to be extra super careful to be perfectly concealed so you don’t get fired or arrested, it is understandable that you not take any chances. But if you aren’t facing jail or job loss for being “made” then you can probably carry a G19 or similar sized pistol comfortably and without notice. If you doubt me, try carrying openly for a day, if it’s legal where you live. Most people won’t even notice an openly carried gun, let alone a subtle bulge under your clothing. Odds are fairly decent that you have a box or dresser drawer full of holsters if you’re a “gun guy”. Some of them are garbage and some work pretty well. But even some of my “gun guy” friends don’t have a decent belt. If you don’t wear a stiff belt, the gun is going to move around and it won’t stay close to your body. It will sag and you will find yourself pulling it back into place. You’ll keep feeling like you “need” a smaller gun. You know that you can’t get by with a cheap nylon holster, I’m sure, but just because you spend more money on a holster doesn’t mean that it will work properly for you, either. Unfortunately, there is no substitute for trying in this case because everyone’s body is different. If you can borrow a friend’s holster, you might save yourself some money. A good place to start is with hybrid leather and kydex holsters made by a variety of companies including Crossbreed and Comptac.
It may take some experimentation, but you can probably carry a bigger gun than you think you can. Instead of finding a gun that’s “small enough” to carry, choose the gun that you shoot best and find a way to carry it. Assuming that gun isn’t an M240B, that is.