June 22, 2018 6 min read 2 Comments

Choosing a self-defense pistol can be an overwhelming task, especially if it is your first time buying a gun. There are so many different choices out there, not to mention all the gun lingo that you have to familiarize yourself with. Some common factors to consider when buying a self-defense pistol are comfort, weight, and how easy it is to conceal the firearm. In this article, we have put together 10 tips to help you choose the right pistol, so you can conceal and carry with confidence.  


One of the first things that you will want to consider is the price. Pistols range greatly in price; guns made by manufacturers like Kimber can run well over $1000, while others, like the Smith and Wesson M&P, are a lot more affordable, at around $400. Before you head to the gun store, you should set your budget, so you can make a smart purchase that doesn’t break the bank. 

Walking in with a firm idea of what you can afford will help you make the right choice. Additionally, don't be swayed by a higher price tag. Just because something is more expensive doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice for you. For instance, some high-priced pistols have features that are better for experienced shooters.  


If you are looking for a self-defense pistol, the first thing you have to decide is how you plan to carry it. Do you want to use a Kydex Inside the Waistband holster or would you prefer an outside-the-waistband holster? Do you plan on keeping it in your purse or bag, stashing it in a glove compartment, or always carrying it on you? 

These are all very important questions that you need to answer. For example, some full-size pistols can be difficult to conceal with an outside-the-waistband holster. If you plan to carry your weapon that way, you will want to choose something hat goes inside the waistband for better concealment. Additionally, a holster gives you much quicker access to your gun compared to trying to find it in your purse or bag.  

The Right Fit

Broadly speaking, pistols come in three different sizes - full-size, compact, and subcompact, the last being the smallest of all sizes. The right size varies between people. For instance, if you have large hands, you will probably feel more comfortable with a full-size pistol. To ensure you get the right fit, you should go to a reputable store and hold a few different guns in different sizes. Pay attention to how they feel in your hand.

You don’t need to worry about giving up concealability with a full-size pistol. You can conceal a full-size pistol with an inside-the-waistband holster, or in a bag. First and foremost, you should choose a gun that accommodates your grip. 


You should be able to handle the recoil of the self-defense pistol that you buy. If you ever have to pull your pistol in a self-defense situation, you want to be able to accurately hit the target. The recoil of your pistol can dictate both how comfortable and how accurate you are with a pistol. 

Many gun companies, like Glock, offer subcompact pistols that come in .380. Such pistols have a low recoil and make for great self-defense weapons. If you are looking for something with a bit more knockdown power and higher recoil, you should probably look at a pistol chambered in .45 cal or .40. These are two heavy-hitting rounds, with a higher recoil. 

If you are buying a pistol for the first time, test fire a few shots at a shooting range near you. Choose guns with different recoils to see the one that you are most accurate with.


If you plan to carry the gun on you at all times, pick a pistol that is lightweight vis-à-vis your body weight. Most subcompacts and compacts are pretty light, in that sense. However, there are a few full-size pistols, too, that are pretty lightweight. Be sure to sample a variety to find the right one for you.

In addition, invest in is a leather gun belt. When you plan to carry the gun on your person all the time, you are going to have a pistol on your hip all day. No matter how light the pistol is, your pants can sag from its weight to a some extent. With a heavy-duty gun belt, the holster will stay in place, and you won’t have to worry about your pistol dragging your pants down. 

Ease of Use

If you are new to guns and you are not exactly sure how the pistol works, it is highly recommended you read the owner’s manual and enroll in a conceal and carry gun course. In a course, a certified instructor will be able to show you how to safely operate your gun. You will also begin to pick up some common gun lingo like revolver, semi-automatic, single action and double action. 

After you have been through a basic gun course, you should have a better understanding of how to operate a firearm. You will want to choose a pistol that you like and know how to use under duress. There are pros and cons to both semi-automatic pistols, and revolvers. Semi-automatic pistols can carry more rounds and they are faster to reload. However, if a semi-automatic malfunctions, you need to clear it in order to use it again. A revolver, on the other hand, can be used through clothing without getting entangled in the fabric and jamming. At the end of the day, it comes down to your personal preference between a semi-automatic and a revolver.

For your everyday carry and self-defense gun, you want the one that is the simplest or the easiest to use. 

Trigger Pull

You don't want to choose a gun that's too powerful for you. The gun's trigger can feel quite heavy to most first-time users, and it has a very powerful recoil. Before you buy into the marketing hype and splurge on such heavy-duty weapons, try them at a shooting range first.


You need a self-defense weapon that's reliable. And in order to ensure the reliability of guns, you need to clean them and lubricate them at regular intervals. Thus, it is important to choose a pistol that is easy to take apart and put back together. It shouldn't take a Herculean effort to disassemble and reassemble it. The maintenance angle is even more important for older people, since we lose strength in our muscles as we age.


All pistols are not created equally. Some pistols are more accurate than others, regardless of how much you practice. However, if you have adjustable sights on your gun, consider zeroing your pistol to match your shooting style. This will increase the overall accuracy. 

On the other hand, if you have a pistol that does not have adjustable sights, you can learn how your pistol shoots. That means if you generally shoot slightly to the right, you must remember to shoot slightly to the left to compensate. This may sound difficult, but as you practice with your pistol, you will learn how it works. If your pistol is all over the place even though you consider yourself a good shot, you may want to look at getting a different model.


Capacity is the amount of ammo your pistol will hold. How much ammo is needed varies from person to person. Many pistols come with, both, double stack and single stack magazine options. They can carry between 7 and 15 rounds. You could also buy a spare magazine holster if you feel that your pistol does not hold enough rounds. This will give you more ammo than what your gun carries, which might give you an added sense of comfort.


in addition to the factors mentioned above, pay attention to factors such as thumb safety, hammer style, and if the pistol has replaceable grips. Some people feel more comfortable with manual thumb safety compared to trigger safety. Similarly, some people prefer guns with an exposed hammer, since it tells them what state their gun is in, at all times.

When it comes to conceal and carry, you want to be able to blend into the crowd. You’ll also want a gun that isn’t too heavy and doesn’t have a large recoil, allowing you to take more accurate shots. 

Finally, regular practice is key in order to feel confident about carrying a firearm. Join a shooting range near you and get to know your pistol, inside and out. Work with the trainer to improve your accuracy and get comfortable with the weight of the gun, in your hands.

2 Responses

Joe Blackwell
Joe Blackwell

October 27, 2020

I own two guns, a Ruger Security 9 and a Glock 43. I carry either one or the other every day with complete confidence that my Concealment Express Kydex IWB holster will keep them exactly where I expect them to be if and when I ever need to use them. Both holsters are a perfect fit for these guns. Both guns snap into place when I holster them, and they are quite easy to draw during my practise sessions. The price was amazing. Thank you Concealment Express.

Maurice R O’Connor
Maurice R O’Connor

September 21, 2018

Great article! Should be passed out a gun stores for the new to intermediate shooter!

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10 Tips for Choosing the Right Self-Defense Pistol