If the new millennium is anything it's the age of concealed carry. More citizens are applying for permits, buying handguns to carry and seeking out professional training. My friends at Gunsite—the premier firearms training academy in the world—tell me their client list is growing every month. People are finally realizing that they alone are responsible for their personal safety.
What's the most important aspect of concealed carry? Is it the gun you use? Is it the ammo you load in it? Is it how well you can shoot it? Nope. While all those things are important, they're not the most important. Obviously, as it is with any firearm, safety is paramount. But beyond that, and when it comes to concealed carry, the next most important thing is that you actually carry.
It matters not what type handgun you have: If you leave it at home or in your car, it can't protect you. Concealed carry rule No. 1: Pick a gun that you can carry comfortably.
Another thing you need to think about is, how you are going to carry? Your waistband? Your ankle? Your pocket? Where you carry is not as important as practicing retrieval of your handgun from where you're going to carry it. There are distinct and separate considerations that need to be addressed with each carry method.
Women often wonder about the best way to carry concealed. In case you haven't noticed, women are very different from men; not just in the way they are made, but in the way they dress. Most women aren't willing to change the way they dress so that they can carry a handgun, and most women do not dress in a manner that is conducive to concealing a handgun. This is why many women decide to carry in a purse. Galco and other companies make gun holster handbags just for carrying handguns, but if that's the way you decide to go—woman or man—you need to learn the proper way to draw a handgun from a handbag.
Can you just shoot through the handbag? Sure, but be prepared to have all the hair singed off your arm when you do it. All those hot gases that come out of the barrel will be trapped in the handbag; hair and hot gas don't mix.
Finally, it's important that you realize a concealed carry permit gives you permission to carry concealed. Depending on where you live and local laws, failure to conceal your handgun could be grounds for permit revocation. So, when you select a carry method, select one that's not just comfortable but one that's concealable, no matter if you are bending over, getting out of a car, or chasing your toddler across a parking lot. Concealed means concealed.
Sure, your gun, your ammo and your ability to shoot matter. But don't lose sight of the fact that for a gun to provide any protection at all, it has to be with you. This might mean you have to settle for a gun that's of a smaller caliber than what many consider "ideal" for personal protection. Be realistic and select a handgun you will actually carry with you, figure out a way to carry it comfortably, and then learn how to get it out swiftly, how to shoot fast, and how to not miss.