Good Guns for Beginners | New to Concealed Carry | USCCA

Sometimes choosing a handgun comes with a sense of urgency. Perhaps some event has occurred in the community and one feels the need to obtain a handgun, training and a concealed carry permit as quickly as possible. But this is an important decision, especially for a beginner in the firearms world. Quality handguns are not inexpensive, and if you make the wrong choice, it can be both costly and discouraging.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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My carry gun is a kahr pm40. It’s small fits in a front pocket with a pocket holster . Seven shots of power … I had the barrel and slide magna-ported to cut down on the jump. It may not be for everyone …but it works for me.

@George60 Welcome to the community. Thanks for posting, lots of good info and people here. :wink:

Articles like this can be helpful and they can also show personal bias even if unintentional. For the beginner it could be folly to dismiss the 380 as a EDC. And while the author make the Glock the baseline for guns and the 9mm the baseline for calibers it the beginner can’t control the pistol to place shots center mass nothing else will matter. I also question the asserting that the 380 makes training harder."And .380s are not well-suited to constant practice, often falling short in range drills and limiting your performance." I haven’t found the PPK in 380 to be harder to shoot or to keep on target at the range, at least targets like the ones posted as a picture in the article. I have put a lot of rounds through a 380 at the range and from first shot cold it is no harder to place the first ten rounds on the 9 ring at 20 feet than a 9 or a 45. and in a self defense situation it is those first few shots that matter the most. But that is my experience and my bias I suppose.

I also still believe for many beginners a revolver makes a good first concealed gun. a small J frame sized .38 is about as simple as it gets. Harder to reload than a pistol but easier to learn to clean and maintain for a beginner than many automatics. There used to be an old saying when I first started shooting, “your first gun is to teach you what you need in the gun you want to carry.” My 2 cents anyway.


I think the S&W Shield 9mm is a really great first carry gun.

  1. It shoots really comfortably and is fun to shoot.
  2. It’s affordable
  3. It’s reliable, (it’s been around long enough to confirm this).
  4. 9mm is a good size round and is economical to shoot
  5. It’s easily concealable
  6. Lots of accessories and holsters to choose from.


  1. Can be hard to rack the slide, but it loosens up a bit after shooting it, and with good technique it can be done easily. It also has an EZ variation.
  2. There are guns that carry more ammo and are smaller (BUT the size and weight of the shield is partly why I think it shoots so well.)

I’m a Shield guy. I have a 9mm PC shield (first carry gun), I have a Shield 45, and my wife has the original stock 9mm shield (some of these run around $300-$350).

My next recommendation would be Glock 19, BUT it’s more expensive. Great for all of the same reasons +capacity. However you pay so much for the Glock name and it is harder to conceal than the shield. Conceal-ability was the hardest thing when I started carrying. I was already having trouble feeling like my shield was exposed to the world, it would have been harder with a larger gun. I know the glock 43 is good but it holds one less round than the shield.! My father has the Taurus pt111, they have the G3 now too. That’s a great option for someone whose really struggling to find the money.

I carry a Ruger LCPII and when I don’t carry that I carry my EC9z

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I carry a a Taurus g2c 9mm now. The author was going on and on about the Glock and I used to carry a Glock 26 and had more than a few ftf and fte problems with it. After putting 500 rounds through my G2c with zero issues I switched it to my edc. I even found that I was personally more accurate with the G2c than with the 26 too. As a bonus, the Taurus was less than half the price of the Glock! I can’t wait to get my hands on a Taurus G3 to compare it to my Glock 19. Some gun snobs turn their nose up at my Taurus and I have a few more expensive pistols, but after much testing, I trust my life with my Taurus g2c.

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Forty years ago, I got my first handgun. Dan Wesson 357. I love my gun, and have not left home without it since I was 22 years old. I have never regretted having to buy purses that would handle a large heavy gun. It was the first gun I ever shot, but won’t be the last. I still love my Dan Wesson, and would not part with it for the world.


My first handgun was a S&W 22A, but my first carry gun was a Ruger LC9. I still have it, but I wanted something with a bit more bite so I ended up with a S&W Shield in .40. That is the one I’ve stuck with and I’m very happy with it. I don’t find it unpleasant to shoot and I can keep it on target rather well. I don’t think this one is the gun for everyone, but it works for me and it’s easier to conceal than my S&W 686 with a 6" barrel…

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I have smaller hands so I was excited when the G48 came out. My trigger finger does not get the proper reach on a G19 or any other double stack Glock. I was disappointed to discover that the trigger reach is no better on the G48 even though the single stackish grip is thinner. Seems like Glock thinks you should not shoot if you don’t have large hands. The M&P compact with the small backstrap does fit ok however so I carry one.


I’m a little surprised that not a single paragraph addresses revolvers. As a beginner, I prefer them, as I’m too worried about not being able to rack a semi-auto in a panic situation or to accidentally use the wrong grip and hurt myself. I have a S&W Bodyguard .38sp for CC and a Taurus with a 5" barrel for fun (and it can be concealed in a handbag). For those really new to firearms, they can be easy and reliable. I’m not ashamed to be a wheel gunner.

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My Army buddy just bought the S&W Shield EZ in 9mm. He, like myself, has some issues with arthritis. He tells me how really easy it is to rack the slide and load the magazine. I have not fired it yet, but he swears by it. It is neither overly large or heavy. The EZ, by design, may be a very good choice for a new EDC person.
Regarding the .380, I am a fan if you use good ammo. I have a Sig P232 that was my first EDC weapon. It has a fixed, 3.7 " barrel and is quite accurate. It reminds one very much of a Walther PPK. 7 round mag. As much as I like it, I would not consider it a great first EDC weapon. It is difficult to rack. It was discontinued years ago though.
I love my new P365, but it is also a bit tough to rack at this point in my life. It shoots very well and is a 9mm, which is great. Only a 3.1" barrel but suprisingly accurate.

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Nothing wrong with revolvers, they are exceptionally reliable and can be concealed fairly easy, with a 3" or less barrel. Over 3" it is more difficult but can be accomplished depending on the person and clothing.
I was also surprised there was no mention of a revolver.

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Well stated.
I would point out that a revolver may be fairly easy to reload with practice and 5 or 6 shot speed loader or a loading strip. (Never really used the strip, have some, but am familiar with the speed loader, though I carry both revolver and semi-auto…

A .380 is a very versatile caliber and capable for self defense, and some may be comfortable enough for shooting that people will go to the range or their own property often enough to practice.

I would agree with you and for the most part the article (Bob Campbell), except the lack of a revolver being mentioned and the dismissal of a .380 and the negative sounding comment towards DA/SA handguns. While the first shot may be pulled some, it is correctable with practice, and many of us older types who had 1911s and Browning Hi-Powers before the Beretta 92 came along, did not …how did he put it ….“After the pistol fires, the slide cocks the hammer for subsequent single-action shots. This is the least desirable type for beginners, and even few experienced shooters prefer it.”… find it undesirable, only different and something to practice to overcome that first shot placement………

It sounds more like he is biased towards striker fired and Glocks in particular.

Revolvers are awesome. I’ve tried to convince myself that it would be a good carry option BUT I have simply decided that auto loaders are superior. They’re easier to maintain, they’re quick to reload, they have a larger capacity. I do understand if racking the slide is hard, revolver is a great choice. I think if you have family members unfamiliar with guns, it’s easy to pick up a loaded revolver and make it work. I don’t think auto loafers are really hard to run though.

Nothing wrong with carrying a revolver. They’re beautiful works of art, and I would like to get a really nice one one day to pass down to my kids. But I just can’t get over the pros of a striker fired pistol. Far from I adequate, but not what I would personally choose.

I had not shot a handgun since my Navy days 27 years ago. When I went to my local gun shop, told them I was a novice and the salesman takes me to the Canik TP9DA. At the time had I known it was made in Turkey I wouldn’t have purchased it. I went to my local gun range, got a refresher course, and the man said I made a good purchase. So I don’t want to hear any crap about supporting terrorism. The owners manual is good, has color pictures and easy to follow instructions. It has Warren sights and is easy to shoot. I can easily field strip and clean it also. It is a good gun for a beginner like me.

As a new Carrier I didn’t consider some important things. I just bought the first gun that felt good. S&W sd40ve. Not a good gun for a beginner. It’s a full size gun, so it’s hard to conceal. It’s a 40 cal, so it has some kick. Something I wasn’t ready for. A few weeks ago I was at my local gun dealer and the guys that work there have been getting to know me real well (I’m in there almost 5 times a week). I walked in and Mike said hey Justin, I was just thinking about you. He said, I know you been talking about getting a better beginner gun for Carrie. So he showed me a Ruger EC9S. The price was good, it felt good. After taking it to the range, I am so happy I got it and now it is my daily Carrie.

I’ve been a 1911 platform person for off duty carry for many years. After retirement and moving to another part time job that required a Glock side arm I opted for the Glock 19. I rarely carry a 1911 now and prefer the 19 as my everyday carry. More recently my wife selected her first handgun for protection and she settled on the Smith & Wesson Shield ez9. I have to admit that I am also very impressed with that handgun and I enjoy shooting it almost as much as she does it is extremely reliable and has functioned well with everything that we have run through the magazine. It is also very similar to what I am familiar with for breaking down and field stripping for cleaning purposes.

This was an excellent article and I enjoyed reading it. Everyone stay safe!

Old thread… but worthy to be continued… especially when we have a lot of new first time owners…

I’ve attended a class recently, nothing fancy, something what keeps me in good “shooting shape”. Stationary shooting, shooting while moving, shooting from behind the cover, hostage situations, shooting form the chair… stuff like that.

There was a lady who struggled with her handgun. I didn’t know what it was, but she needed 2 - 3 seconds to draw it, then extra 2 seconds to correct the grip before the first shot. Reloading and racking the slide was almost impossible for her.
During the short break I spoke with her and she handed the firearm to me… I was surprised… CZ75 Compact without any modifications… which means - heavy steel frame, heavy recoil spring, twice (as normal) less slide surface to rack it fast and small safety lever… :scream: - everything what can make self defense shooting unpleasant.
I’m not grumbling at CZ75, not at all, I’ve been shooting P-01 for myself, so I perfectly know this handgun.
But in that case it was a very poor choice. So I asked why… Why? Friend told her that pistol would have less recoil… :zipper_mouth_face:

So… the moral of the story is - read and listen professionals, rent and shoot by yourself - then be sure you can handle the tool, practice to be proficient with it. Do not struggle with the firearm. Have fun and be safe !
“Don’t be a Dickhead”! (Mickey Schuch)

After renting pistols I was convinced revolvers were for me. I’ll stick to my wheelguns. Trying to find a Heritage Barkeep, just for fun. No I wouldn’t carry a 22 single action snubbie for defense.