Yes, Size Matters!

Article provided by Don Griffin: attorney, university professor and recent Indiana transplant. Don is originally from Texas where he was a licensed concealed handgun instructor and a basic pistol instructor for the
NRA. Don can be reached at or at (713)-471-9788.

What’s the first rule of a gunfight? Unquestionably, have a gun.

When you purchase a concealable weapon to keep you and your family safe, and to have in your purse or glove box, the wise choice is to purchase a smaller gun. Otherwise, you are likely to leave it at home. There are many considerations to selecting a gun.

Modern handguns come in two varieties: revolvers and semi-automatics. Revolvers used to be the mainstay of law enforcement because they are simple, reliable and have few moving parts. Loading, pointing, firing and unloading are quickly understood. There are no clips or magazines, no safety, no ratcheting of a slide back and forth and they they do not jam. Revolvers are simple to use.

So, why did nearly every law enforcement agency abandon the revolver and turn to semi-automatic handguns? Revolvers are usually limited to six rounds, while it is common for a semi-automatic to carry up to 18 rounds. Revolvers require more time to load and unload. With a semi-automatic, the user slides in a new multi-round magazine and then operates the slide. Revolvers are often larger and heavier than newer semi-automatics, which are small, lighter, quick to load, and with a little practice, very reliable.

Semi-automatics come in a large variety of materials, sizes, caliber and even colors. They come in traditional black steel frames, titanium frames, polymer frames (at a fraction of the weight of steel), and recently in a host of colors from traditional black to red, pink, blue or white. Appearance, however, should take a backseat to caliber selection. Handgun calibers can range from .22, .25, .32, .380, 9 mm, .40, .45, .50 and a .410 shotgun shell. How does one choose?

Initially women might favor a .22. There is little or no recoil and a gun can usually hold 10 rounds allowing you to fire 10 quick rounds toward your assailant. On the other hand, a .22 round, while theoretically lethal, offers little stopping power to end the fight. You may shoot the assailant several times but due to the small shock of the round, the assailant could do lethal damage to you, leave the scene and then take an hour to bleed to death from the .22 wounds.

A larger caliber can offer more protection. Many women choose a .380 because of the small handgun frame size and less recoil than larger calibers. This might have been true a few years ago, but there are now many 9 mm handguns on the market that are just as small as a .380. The 9 mm is the most popular caliber not only for law enforcement, but also for nearly every army. The round packs a much bigger wallop, has around the same recoil and can be found nearly anywhere. Why carry a smaller round when your pistol will be the same size and will have a much larger delivery?

Choose a gun you are comfortable with, not what the salesperson is comfortable with, and not what happens to be on sale. Practice with your purchase until carrying it and knowing how to use it becomes second nature.

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