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Carrying a Concealed Weapon
Let me preface this article with some information. I am not a lawyer or police officer. What is written here are my opinions based on many years of carrying concealed firearms and from discussing the pros and cons of carrying concealed weapons with others who are experienced as well.
There are several things to consider when choosing a weapon for defense: 1) is it 100% reliable, 2) does it feel comfortable to me, 3) is it of a size that I can conceal it and will feel comfortable carrying it, 4) is it of a reasonable caliber, 5) environment. With all the attention given to the latest greatest man stopping caliber and load you may find it surprising that I list the caliber last and least important. Let's go over these points.
My recommendation for home defense is a revolver for the reasons stated above and because they are in general simpler to operate. Once loaded it's pull the trigger to fire and that's it. No safeties to turn on/off, no slides to operate to ensure that there is a round in the chamber, no decockers to worry about after firing. None of these problems are insurmountable; anyone with the desire to get training and to practice can overcome them. It just takes practice. If you're not willing to devote the time to really learn your firearm choosing one that's simpler is likely better.
If you choose to carry a magnum caliber revolver or semi-auto along the lines of a 41 or 44 magnum or 10mm auto you should consider carrying reduced loads. Statistics indicate that the full power magnum loads do not have a better reputation for stopping an assault, they do however increase the likely hood that you will over penetrate if you have to shoot and endanger bystanders and they are more difficult to control in rapid fire. Neither situation is desired if you have to use your defense weapon.
For defensive use you will want to pick a load with an expanding hollow point. This will help to reduce the chances of over penetration and if the bullet expands will do more damage. If the bullets don't expand you haven't lost anything over using a round nose or semi-wad cutter design that wouldn't have expanded either. An exception to this would be if your weapon isn't reliable with anything other than round nose bullets. If you must use round nose aka hardball to make your weapon 100% reliable then that's what you should do. Use whatever load works 100% in your chosen gun. If you can't count on it get something else that you can. As a side note, if a modern handgun won't feed hollow points I would suspect there's something wrong with it and you should have it examined by a competent gunsmith.
Large semi-autos or revolvers with 4" or longer barrels work very well in vertical shoulder holsters. These position the firearm so the barrel is pointing down with the butt of the grip pointing forward. With the length running along your body you can easily conceal rather large weapons. Horizontal shoulder holsters work well for the more compact of the full size semi-autos or compacts like the Sig Saur 220 or Ruger P85 where the length of the slide is less than the depth of your body, extremely thin people will want to consider other carry methods.
If you tend to be on the large size with a broad chest a shoulder holster may not work best for you. Reaching across your body to draw can be difficult. A strong side hip holster is likely to be your best choice. If you're extremely thin a shoulder holster is also not going to be your best choice, with a small frame it will be difficult to conceal a firearm in a shoulder holster without a significant bulge, again a strong side hip or small of the back holster is going to be your best choice.
Your environment can also dictate what will work for you. For example if you spend a lot of time sitting, in a car, truck riding a horse whatever, drawing from a strong side or small of the back holster may well be nearly impossible. For that situation you'll want a cross draw holster. From a seated position it's very easy to draw from a cross draw holster that sits approximately on your front hip.
You will want to experiment with different holsters to find what works best for you in your daily routine. What works for me may not work for you. Your best bet will be to go with what works for you and not necessarily what someone else uses. Listen to the opinions of those with experience then make your own decision.
For more information about CCW than you'd think would be in one place visit http://www.packing.org.