Smaller And Lighter Are Not Always Better


DoubleTap Defense .45 ACP. Length 5.5″, height 3.9″, thickness 0.665″. Weight, approximately 15 oz. Capacity 2.

On Concealed Nation, we emphasize the importance of carrying every day. We learn from news accounts that an emergency can arise at any time. You can be at home watching TV, driving in your car, walking your dog or taking out the trash. Your defensive handgun cannot help you if you do not have it with you when the trouble starts. You will not have your gun with you if carry has not become a habit, or carrying is difficult or extremely inconvenient.

Many beginners in concealed carry, especially those with little or no experience with handguns, may think that the smaller and lighter the firearm, the better. This is NOT TRUE. This example is an extreme case, but it illustrates a point very well.

The Double Tap Defense .45 ACP in the review malfunctioned, setting off TWO rounds of .45 ACP simultaneously. Even if the gun had functioned normally, firing a full-power .45 ACP round in a 15 oz. gun which is only 0.665″ wide is going to leave a definite impression on your hand! Something tells me that practice sessions with this gun would be very brief.

Selecting a handgun for concealed carry is an extremely personal thing. The only person who can do it is you. Too often, a well-meaning fellow will give his wife, daughter, or girlfriend a tiny .380 auto or a S&W J-frame, thinking that the small size and light weight will appeal to the lady. In fact, these small guns are better for experts than for beginners. A nice “compact” pistol in 9 mm or a 4″ .38 Special revolver may be easier to control, provide a better fit to the hand, and inspire more confidence.

Bond Arms Mini 45

Bond Arms Mini 45. This 19 oz. gun is 4.5″ long and has a 2.5″ barrel. Note the lack of a trigger guard. Capacity, 2 rounds of .45 ACP.

There a number of factors to consider in choosing your concealed carry piece. Trade-offs exist among some of them. You need to select the combination which fits you the best. Often, the only way to decide is by test-firing several guns at a rental range or in a training session. In fact, it is a great idea to get some professional training before buying your first handgun. Most instructors have lots of guns and will be glad to let you try them out.

Above all, please keep the following requirements in mind:

  • Reliability. The gun must fire without fail every time the trigger is pulled.
  • Controllability. You must be able to place the first round on the target as quickly as possible, even when under high stress.
  • Power. The round must be able to do enough damage to the target to stop any hostile action. In many cases, multiple shots may be necessary.
  • Concealability. You must be able to carry your firearm all day, every day. It must be concealed, yet always ready for use in an emergency.

Kahr Arms P9

Kahr Arms P9 in 9 mm. Length 5.8″, height 4.5″, slide thickness 0.9″. Weight 16.9 oz. Capacity 7+1.

The first requirement is absolutely non-negotiable. The other three offer some room for give and take among them. You want to carry the most powerful firearm you can control reliably and carry with confidence. Overall size and weight come into the equation, but just as important is how the gun feels in your hand. Only you can judge this. It depends on the height, angle, shape, and thickness of the grip. The ability to place successive shots on target in rapid fire is also important. If the .45 ACP or .44 Special has too much recoil, try a .40 S&W or a 9 mm. Also, remember that training and regular practice will help build and maintain your shooting skill.


SIG P 239 SAS in .40 S&W. Length 6.6″, height 5.1″, thickness 1.2″. Weight 29.5 oz. Capacity 7+1.

As far as size and weight go, they are what comes out after you have made all the other choices. If you are committed, you will train and dress appropriately for the firearm you choose to carry and the environment in which you carry. Do not always go for the smallest and lightest firearm. Your hand will thank you.  Stay safe.


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About the Author

Constantine is a semi-retired business owner and consultant who lives in the Northeast US. He is an NRA Endowment Life Member and an NRA Certified Instructor. He enjoys all shooting sports as well as big-game hunting. Licensed to carry in over 30 states, he has carried daily for over 20 years and has instructed many novice shooters in firearm safety and basic shooting skills. His EDC (most of the time) is a Rock River Arms custom 1911 loaded with Federal 230 gr. HydraShok JHP. This is carried in a Mitch Rosen USD II Slimline IWB holster on a Mitch Rosen belt. A Chris Reeve Sebenza 25 and a SureFire LED flashlight round out the system.

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