Choosing an Every-Day Carry Pistol by Randy Rowley


There are several factors that must be considered when considering an every-day carry (EDC) pistol, including safety, reliability, concealability, power/ammo, and price.


Striker fired guns generally do not have safeties (their heavy trigger pulls are their safeties).  Glock’s are very popular, but they do not have an active safety.  Kahr’s, Keltec’s (which are not well known), S&W 99’s and Walther P99’s and PPS’s have no safeties at all.  Springfield Armory XD’s also do not have an active safety but do have a grip safety (the gun must be gripped to fire).  These guns are not for novice shooters, who can and do make mistakes.  If you buy one, until you become very proficient, they should not be carried with a round in the chamber.  This would make an emergency encounter even more difficult because you’ll have to pause to chamber a round.  There are just too many incidents of novice shooters hurting themselves or others with such guns.  There is nothing wrong with the guns – they just shouldn’t be carried by novices just like guard dogs shouldn’t be trained by novices.

The 1911 class pistols have an active safety, a grip safety, and an internal safety that prevents a discharge if the gun is dropped.  This enables them to be carried “cocked and locked” (fully loaded with the safety on).

There are a few other factors that you should consider such as Single Action/Double Action triggers vs. Double Action only triggers (which is largely a preference issue), trigger weight (of pull), and sights.  Also, if you are looking for a family gun (one that your wife can shoot as well) then you’ll probably have to consider a smaller framed single stack magazine gun.

The size of the gun can be the determining factor in which one that you choose.  If you want a “pocket pistol” the .40 and .45 kick a lot more in the smaller pistols and are harder to handle.  Pocket pistols usually are shorter-barreled versions of full-sized pistols.  Generally, shorter barreled pistols aren’t as accurate as longer barreled pistols.


Your pistol must go bang every time that you squeeze the trigger, no matter which brand of ammo that you’re using.  If it doesn’t then it is worthless (or a very expensive paper weight), no matter how much you paid of it.


Generally, you will need a pistol with a 3 – 4″ barrel.  Tactical models (5″) are much harder to conceal and to pull out from concealment.  Weight is also a consideration.  I’ve got an impressive belly.  Putting a belly holster on me is akin to putting a belt on a basketball – it doesn’t work very well.  For me the only holster that works is a pocket holster, which means that I must go with a light pistol to keep from pulling my pants down.  If a gun is too heavy or too bulky for you to carry every day, then you have defeated your purpose.  Therefore, I must choose polymer frame over steel framed guns.  But there is a price to pay for light pistols – they will kick more than an identical gun with a steel frame.

Pistols with single-stack magazines are lighter than pistols with double-stack magazines.  In addition, the seven or so extra rounds that a double-stack magazine offers will add to the overall weight.  So, if a pistol’s weight is an issue for you, a pistol that holds single stacked magazines is the way to go.  The “pro” for a double-stacked magazine pistol is, if you get into a gun fight, having a gun that hold 15 rounds instead of eight is a big advantage and can mean the difference between coming home and going to the morgue.


The purpose of a defensive pistol is to stop an attacker.  Statistics show that .22’s, .25 ACP’s, .32 ACP’s, and .380’s don’t have the one-shot stopping power to accomplish the primary task.  They can and do stop attackers, but they often take more than one shot, during which the attacker can be doing untold number of unpleasant things to you or your family.  That leaves the 9mm, 40 Smith & Wesson (S&W), .357 SIG, .45 GAP, .45 ACP, and 10mm.  The .357 SIG, .45 GAP, and 10mm certainly have power in spades but they are much less popular/less known, so ammo availability is scarce.  This contributes to their unpopularity and, therefore, makes them much more expensive (due to the law of supply and demand).  This means that you probably won’t be able to find ammo if you are stranded in Paducah and need it and you’ll probably practice a lot less because you won’t be able to afford to.

The 10mm also kicks a lot, which makes follow-up shots (if necessary) harder.  The FBI examined the 10mm and decided that it was too much gun for the average human – this led to the case being shortened, resulting in the .40 S&W.

That leaves the 9mm, 40 S&W, and .45 ACP.  Any of the three will do the job.  The .40 S&W and the .45 ACP kick about the same and the .40 is almost as powerful as the .45.  9mm and .45 ACP ammo is generally easier to find than .40 S&W.

For many smaller-framed people, 9mm’s are much more enjoyable to shoot than 40 S&W’s and .45 ACP’s.


The cheapest new 9mm pistols go for around $280.  The most expensive go well over $2000.  As with everything else, you usually get what you pay for.  However, when you go over $800 quality vs. price diminishes rapidly.  Do you really need a match grade barrel when a standard barrel will do fine? is just one of the many questions that can be explored.  1911 style pistols are more expensive than the polymer kin (steel frame vs. plastic).

You also can pay for names.  Colt, Browning, Kimber, etc. all charge more than similar brands/styles because you’re paying for the name.  Case in point.  Bushnell makes a riflescope for Browning that is basically identical to the Bushnell Elite 3200.  Browning puts their Buckmark (deer) logo on it and charges $100 more for the scope. To me, that little Browning deer is not worth $100.

For a mainstream pistol you can expect to pay between $500 – $1000 for a new one.  Of course, you can get a good used pistol for considerably less money.

If you live in north or central Austin, I highly recommend that you go to Eagle Peak Shooting Range, Shady Oaks Gun Range, or Red’s Indoor Range North.  You can rent guns by the day at Eagle Peak (although you must use their ammo) and they charge a daily fee.  You can rent guns by the hour at Shady Oaks and Red’s (as with Eagle Peak, you must use their ammo).  This will allow you to try a wide variety of guns, which will help you to whittle things down.  Of the two, Red’s has a larger selection.  If you’re going to be at the range for more than an hour, then Eagle Peak is the better deal.

Also, you would be wise to Google and read up on a gun before you buy it.  Here are a few articles:

I highly recommend:

With all the above factors in mind I recommend the following pistols for new shooter:

  • Beretta 92 (the army adopted this gun several years ago; although it is heavy) or PX4 Storm
  • Bersa Thunder Nine and Thunder Nine Ultra Compact
  • Browning Hi-Power
  • Charles Daly M-5 Commander, M-5 Ultra X Compact
  • Colt Commander, Defender
  • CZ 2075 RAMI, CZ 75 Compact, P01, P06
  • Dan Wesson Commander CLS Bobtail
  • EAA Witness (a good value)
  • Firestorm Mini 9 (another good value)
  • FN Herstal FNP-9, FNP-9M (like SIGs but cheaper)
  • Kimber Compact II, Eclipse Pro II, Pro Aegis II, Pro Carry II, SIS Pro, SIS Ultra, Tactical Pro, Tactical Ultra, Ultra Aegis II, Ultra Carry II
  • Magnum Research Baby Eagle 9900 BL, 9915R, 9915RSL
  • Para Ordnance Carry, Carry 9, Carry 12, CCO, Hawg 9, PDA, Slim Hawg, WartHog,
  • Ruger P45, P95, SR9 (their triggers are mushy and take getting used to)
  • SIG 1911 Compact, P220
  • Smith & Wesson M&P, SW1911 (avoid the Sigma)
  • Springfield Armory EMP
  • Stoeger Cougar 8000 (this is the same gun as the Beretta Cougar that Beretta discontinued and replaced with the Storm, but at half the price)
  • Taurus PT 24/7 Pro, PT911, PT92, PT99 (Taurus pistols have bad triggers but these four are the exception)

I recommend the following for experienced shooters:

  • Charles Daly ZDA (a quality copy of the SIG P226)
  • CZ 75 D PCR Compact
  • Glock 19, 23, 26, 27, 30, 36
  • Kahr P9, P40, PM9, PM40
  • Kel-tec P-11 (avoid the PF-9)
  • Kimber KDP
  • Springfield Armory XD (M), XD Service Model, XD Compact, XD Sub Compact, XD 45 ACP
  • SIG SP2022, P226, P229, P250 Compact
  • Smith & Wesson SW99
  • Walther P99, PPS

I will be happy to further discuss EDC pistols with you.

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Bible Verse of the Day

If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.