Gun enthusiasts are notorious for spewing advice. We like to argue about the best load for this and the most accurate gun for that; we love to comment, “Finger off the trigger!” or, “You know, you could shoot better if you leaned forward a little more,” on every gun photo on social media. And heaven help anyone who calls a magazine a “clip” in our presence. The firearm media, this website included, is a wealth of helpful advice—so much so that the sheer amount, and sometimes the seeming contradictions, are overwhelming. We gun writers mean well, but we tend to get so bogged down in the details and nuances of what we do that we forget the whole world might not care as much about the minutiae. We forget that most gun owners don’t have an entire gun safe full of options and are making do with what they have. And you know what? That’s almost always good enough.
Most of us have finite resources: fixed amounts of time, money and ammo. Working within the resources you have is wise and is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. If you’ve ever caught yourself feeling inadequate in one of these areas, snap out of it!
Self-Defense Load Inadequacy
We all know That Guy at the range or in a magazine who swears any caliber that doesn’t start with a 4 isn’t worth carrying. This guy is full of it, not that you’ll ever get him to admit that. The 9 mm is the most popular handgun chambering for self-defense these days, and it does a phenomenal job in that capacity. The smaller .380 ACP enjoys a good bit of popularity as well, as do, of course, the larger .40 S&W and .45 ACP that range dude is always going on about.
Much is said in gun magazines and blogs about how the ideal self-defense handgun is such-and-such a size, such-and-such a weight, with this characteristic and that accessory, all carried in XYZ perfect holster. And all those things are great, and correct. But again—that’s an ideal.
What if all you have is a little old handgun your grandpa passed down to you, maybe a .25 ACP or even a .22 LR revolver? Go carry that thing and be proud of it. Practice with it; try to get the most appropriate self-defense loads that it will shoot, and rock on.
We want you to exercise your Second Amendment rights, no matter what that looks like for you, and a handgun that gun snobs would consider “not ideal” will still defend your life when it counts. Whatever you do, don’t get mired down reading gun advice, throw your hands up and decide that if you can’t afford the latest tricked-out 9 mm with laser and custom holster, then it’s not even worth bothering to carry anything. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let’s be honest—carrying concealed can be tricky, especially for women. There are plenty of things you can do to make it more comfortable, but the fact is, some people are not willing or able to adapt their wardrobe and try several holsters to find the perfect combination.
Gun enthusiasts would tell you to suck it up and change everything about yourself if necessary, to make it work. They’ll tell you that purse carry is borderline dangerous, so forget it. Carry on your person or you’re irresponsible and reckless.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of purse carry. Doing it safely requires a level of vigilance that we all think we possess, but frankly, very few humans can actually sustain in real-world conditions. That said, should you throw your hands up and say, “Forget it! On-body carry is just not working for me. If purse carry is so unsafe, I’ll just leave the gun at home.”? Of course not!
This is another case of perfect (on-body carry) being the enemy of good (carrying a gun at all). I encourage you to keep working on ways to make on-body carry work for you, but if it’s just not happening, or for those occasions where your wardrobe makes it impossible (cocktail dresses, anyone?), don’t let anyone tell you that purse carry is too dangerous and resorting to it makes you some kind of failure. Get a proper purse to secure the gun, practice (unloaded) drawing from it, get your mind straight about what purse carry requires, and hit the town with your firearm.
The firearms media pushes training, hard—and for good reason. We want everyone who owns firearms to be trained in safe handling and proper shooting technique, of course. But some gun enthusiasts take this to the extreme. They’d have you believe that if you’re not kitting up, rolling around in the dirt doing shooting drills twice a year and hitting the range twice a month to sharpen your skills, you’re not properly prepared to carry a gun.
This is nonsense. I absolutely want you to shoot as often as you’re able, and to get self-defense training to sharpen your skills as well as your mindset. But for most of us, dropping a few thousand bucks on a top-tier instructional class is a rare-if-ever indulgence, and we’ve got a whole lot of stuff to do on weekends. The fact is that we just aren’t going to get to the range as often as we like or nearly as often as gun snobs tell us we should.
Listen to me carefully: Never ever let someone tell you that if you don’t make range time a frequent part of your life, you’re not prepared or safe to carry a firearm. Yes, we want you to train. Yes, we want you to shoot as often as you’re able. Yes, we want you to shoot your gun so often that you know it backwards and forwards. But should you ever throw your hands up and say, “There’s no way I can keep up that kind of routine; I’m lucky if I get to the range three times a year. If that’s not good enough, forget it.”
It is good enough. Get to the range when you can, drill safety relentlessly, and do your dry practice and unloaded draw practice at home when you can’t get to the range. Don’t feel like you have to live up to some ideal or give up. And never let perfect become the enemy of good.