Concealed Carry Corner: Optimal Versus Realistic Carry Guns

Matt E
by Matt E

Welcome back to another edition of Concealed Carry Corner. Last week, we looked at an accessory guide for summer carry guns. If you happened to miss that article, be sure to click the link here to give it a read. This caused a couple of good questions from readers about optimal carrying guns and how to figure out what kind of handgun you should carry daily. These questions made me start thinking about some of the drastic differences an optimal carry gun is compared to something realistic to carry daily. Let’s take a closer look at optimal versus realistic carry guns.

Concealed Carry Corner @ TFB:

What are Optimal Carry Guns?

The idea of an optimal carry gun is a rather vague concept. The hard truth of the matter is we all have different optimal carry guns. Some of us have aging eyes and need a red dot in order to pick up our sight picture faster while others prefer a weapon light. Depending on your body structure, you could shoot a full-size all-metal framed gun better while others prefer a mid or compact-sized handgun since they shoot the best with that particular configuration. The perfect gun that would be considered optimal in a concealed carry threat will be different for everyone.

Whether it’s various types of red dots, flashlights or aftermarket triggers, there’s always that perfect setup that you’d like for a self-defense situation. For most people, I always set the scene by asking what would be the one pistol choice if you had to outshoot a friend or shoot the perfect drill. Being able to choose a single pistol for an important event is the first sign that a particular pistol is probably your optimal carry gun. Typically, this will be a different pistol depending on your personal preferences. My optimal carry gun is my trusty SIG Sauer P225 Elite with a Gray Guns adjustable trigger and MecGar 18-round magazine. This gun is one of my favorites to shoot at the range, but during the warm summer months, it’s almost impossible to carry comfortably every single day.

Being Realistic With Your Carry Gun

Having realistic expectations when it comes to carrying a concealed handgun is one of the most important aspects to grapple with to be successful when carrying daily. For some, it’s certainly possible to carry comfortably with a weapon-mounted light, red dot, and flared magwell. Bigger-built guys especially have an easier time concealing mid or full-size pistols.

This is drastically different from someone who is 6ft tall and weighs 140lbs. Being skinny can make it tough to conceal larger framed pistols on a daily basis. Finding a carry pistol that not only fits your body type but also your lifestyle can start to limit the options when it comes to pistol size. Some will be able to easily conceal a full-size duty pistol while others will struggle to even carry something like a Glock 19. This is because of their body type and how they carry themselves.

The old term where there’s a will there’s a way does apply but if you are set on carrying a specific size gun that may not work well with your body type or how you dress ultimately making carrying much more difficult. The biggest key to being comfortable throughout the day is having an adequately sized pistol for your body type. Personally, I can certainly carry a full-size pistol concealed but during the summer, the best carry gun for me is usually my Glock 48 or a SIG P365 XL with the Glock 43 coming out occasionally too.

The Disconnect Between Marketing and Reality

A common trap the vast majority of people fall into is the idea that your gun needs to be completely tricked out to be the best shooter possible. Whether it is marketing and product photos from gun companies or people online posting their crazy expensive builds, there are always people showing off some of their favorite pistols and builds online. It’s part of what makes our community great with the ability to have discussions but as a result of all this, it’s made people think they need every attachment to be a better shooter.

I love tricking my guns out and talking with others about upgrades, and most of you know this. Certainly, I can appreciate people making their guns exactly how they want them, but there is a clear difference between having an optimal gun and a realistic carry gun. I think that gets lost a lot in our community because people want to do more and more with their guns to have the latest and greatest. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but for everyday people who want to carry a gun for self-defense, it can be taxing financially if they feel the need to upgrade their gun because that’s the norm.

Overall Thoughts

When it comes to carrying a concealed handgun, it can be a bit of a learning curve to figure out exactly what you want to carry daily. Different body types and different clothing choices will impact your ability to carry certain handguns and it’s important to keep those factors in mind when choosing a carry gun. It’s never a bad thing to have an optimal gun that you’re comfortable with but it may not always be a realistic carry gun. They are two very different concepts and it’s important to keep that in mind no matter what you see online.

What do you guys think about being realistic with your carry guns? Let me know in the comments below. If you have questions about carrying concealed or firearms in general, be sure to shoot me a message on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there and we will see you next week for another edition of Concealed Carry Corner.

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

Matt E
Matt E

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.

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9 of 18 comments
  • Tdiinva Tdiinva on May 17, 2024

    There is no such thing as an optimal carry gun. You should be able to effectively use any gun.

    • See 6 previous
    • Iksnilol Iksnilol on May 19, 2024

      @tdiinva Yes, but he shoots better with a better gun.

  • Steve Steve on May 17, 2024

    Starting with your preferred carry location is a good place to start - body type will define what works and what doesn't. At 5'3" and a disgusting 190 lbs (+45 lbs during the pandemic... I have a hell of a time dropping weight), appendix-carry is a non-option for me. That said, I'm short - an untucked polo shirt allows me to OWB carry a full-size HK45 and still conceal it just fine. I tend to rotate between a P365X (IWB at 4-5 o'clock) and LCR (pocket holster).