Concealed Carry Corner: Range Guns vs Concealed Guns

    Probably one of the most common questions I get is to explain the difference between a carry and range gun. Now carrying various guns will always be different depending on where you live, and what your situation is. Whether it is going to the gym or going for a hike in the snow-covered trails, certain situations will affect your carry options. I get questions all the time about carrying various handguns with lights, red dots, and magwells and if it’s viable to carry throughout the year. Let’s dive into the differences between range guns vs concealed guns.

    Range guns are great for adding optics and accessories to help put rounds on target. I typically prefer my carry guns to have simple iron sights.

    Range Guns

    It’s fairly typical to carry a full size or extended slide handgun at the range. Full-size guns are usually the easiest to shoot with more weight to mitigate recoil. Full-size handguns give the shooter the most grip space for control and manipulations as well. The larger framed handguns will be easier to control but that extra bulk and weight can be a nightmare to conceal.

    Most days I use full-size handguns when doing new drills or when I work on accuracy. Using a full-size handgun with attachments at the range makes sense for me since that’s typically what’s on my nightstand.  Often times my range guns will have red dots, lights, magwells and threaded barrels for various muzzle devices. Range guns typically have no limitations so you can create the perfect set up for yourself fairly easily because you’re not limited by size or weight constraints.

    Probably the biggest difference between range guns and carry guns for me is the amount of time I spend cleaning each gun style. Normally, I will go a few hundred rounds before cleaning a range gun to see how it performs under dirtier conditions. If I decide to shoot a carry gun, I will immediately clean it to keep things as fresh as I can. If you take care of your carry guns, then they will take care of you if the time ever comes to use them.

    I will often shoot multiple sessions at the range before cleaning my dedicated range guns but will keep my carry guns as clean as possible.

    Carry Guns

    Carry guns can range widely depending on where you live and what climate you have. Whether it’s a magazine and gun limit like California, or dealing with 100-degree heat with high humidity like Florida, carry guns can have a wild variety due to external factors. Personally, I will carry either a completely stock Gen 5 Glock 19, P320 X-Compact, or a smaller gun like the P365 or G43. My trusty carry guns are what I carry typically 90% of the time throughout the year. I will occasionally carry larger guns in the fall or winter months, but most of the time you will see me with one of these four guns.

    I prefer my carry guns to remain as standard and simple as possible just because they’re easier to carry for me. It all boils down to the K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid) philosophy and getting rid of various add ons that may make it more difficult to shoot in a stressful situation. The only add on I will consistently carry is some sort of weapon-mounted light. After taking a few different low or no light shooting courses, having a couple different light options can make a huge difference. Other than that, I try to keep it simple and consistent for daily use.

    Can A Gun Be Both A Range And Carry Gun?

    Probably one of the most common questions I get is how I conceal carry something like a full-size gun that has a light, red dot, or magwell on it. Often times in the winter months I will carry full-size range guns simply because I shoot them the best and its relatively easy to carry large handguns in the winter with the proper holster. With temperatures between 0-20 degrees, it’s easy to pile on layers and cover up any printing that may happen with larger guns. I try to keep things consistent and simple when choosing a carry gun but if you can be proficient with a range gun that has an optic, there’s no reason to not carry that particular gun if the conditions allow it.

    Overall Thoughts

    At the end of the day, it all boils down to what gun you’re proficient with and how easy it is to conceal. Living in the northeast lets me carry larger framed guns in the colder months without having to worry about printing. This is vastly different from someone living in Florida or southern Texas where temperatures climb much higher than they do here.

    If you are proficient with range guns and can get away with carrying them, then I would say go for it as long as it’s concealed properly. We may all have different opinions on whats best for daily carry and that’s totally fine. It should be with a huge variety of climates and situations, but the important thing is to carry what you feel most comfortable with. Let me know what you prefer to use at the range vs concealing. Do you carry both or do you prefer to keep them separate? Let me know what you prefer in the comments below. If you have any questions feel free to shoot me a message on my Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there!

    TFB’s Concealed Carry Corner is brought to you by GLOCK



    I’m an avid shooter and love educating whether it’s at my job or in the shooting community. I’m an average joe that really loves talking with other people about firearms and other passions.
    I’m active on Instagram on @fridgeoperator.