Once you have made the decision to carry for personal protection, the next step in this process is choosing the correct firearm for you. There a few things to take into consideration to ensure you choose a firearm that will work for you.
The first thing to consider is going to be whether or not the firearm fits you properly. When it comes to selecting a firearm for concealed carry, a lot of people go find the smallest firearm they possibly can, in the largest caliber. Granted, the smaller the firearm, the easier it is to conceal. There’s no arguing that point. However, the smaller the firearm, the more felt recoil the operator will ultimately have to deal with. This makes firearms like this fairly difficult to manage and very difficult to do so accurately. Larger firearms are typically easier to shoot and the shooter will feel the least amount of felt recoil, but they are going to be harder to conceal. I generally recommend finding a good middle ground and going with a mid-size pistol for everyday carry options.
Body type is another factor with this. An individual with large hands for instance, will not be able to get a proper grip on a sub-compact pistol such as a Ruger LCP. If you have half of your hand hanging off the grip of the pistol, this can cause shot placement to be off and will often require the shooter to readjust their grip after every shot. It is much more effective to get a firearm that properly fits your hand. Simplicity of the firearm is an aspect to think about too. For newer shooters, something simple like a Glock or a Smith and Wesson M&P would be a great choice. There are fewer external controls on these firearms which makes for easy operation, especially in high stress situations.
Another aspect in firearm selection is going to be your “natural point of aim”. Different firearm manufacturers use different angles on the grips of the firearms. I recommend handling any firearm you are considering purchasing, see if it feels comfortable in your hands and make sure you can reach any controls without having to significantly readjust your grip to do so. It is also advisable to make sure that when you are aiming in with the firearm, you don’t have to make any significant adjustment of the muzzle to correct your sight alignment. If you have to make that adjustment every time, you will have to make the same adjustment when you are shooting which can cost time and cause inaccuracy.
Picking a caliber is more in depth than just picking the largest caliber available as well. There is a general bracket I would recommend staying within for personal protection. While small calibers like 22 or 32 auto are fairly common, I do not recommend anything below .380 for personal protection. Good calibers to consider would be 9mm, .40 cal, .45 auto, .38 spcl, or .357. These are all great calibers, however, they all have different levels of penetration, stopping power and ammunition cost will vary slightly. If you are primarily going to be carrying in urban areas, something that will penetrate less may be the better option. These calibers are all readily available and easy to find at most sporting goods stores, whereas if you went with something like 357 sig or 10mm it could be substantially harder to find and cost would generally be quite a bit higher. A good rule of thumb is to check with your local Law Enforcement agency and find out what they are using. It would not be wrong to follow suit.