Don’t Budget Your Carry Gun

[TL;DR at the bottom.]

Another philosophy post? Jeeze, does this guy do anything but sit around and think all day?

You, probably

I know, I know. I’m sorry, but this one had to get written. We’ll get back to less abstract stuff soon. Wait, why am I apologizing? This is my blog, I’ll write what I want!

Back On Topic

This week I was listening to The Gun Collective’s podcast when the topic of budget for a carry gun came up. Now please don’t misunderstand me. I’m a big fan of TGC, and I listen to their podcast each week when it comes out, so me disliking something of their’s enough to actually write about it is not normal.

@39:45 in the podcast (linked in the above paragraph), a listener asked “Carry guns. $500 or less?” The went back and forth about what a good budget is. The general consensus was that $1,000 or less is reasonable. One guy carries a VP9, which is well under that amount, another carries a red-dot equipped pistol, so over a grand in total, and the third guy carries different guns regularly (though I highly doubt any of them are north of $750). The idea was that you want a gun that’s reliable, but they kept coming back to the idea that ‘if you end up using it, you’re likely to have it taken away, either temporarily or permanently’, and I could not disagree more.

They kept hammering that idea home, ‘if you use it, you may lose it, so don’t put too much money into your carry gun!’. I’m not worried about a cop taking my gun from me after I smoke-check some dude, I’m worried about surviving the encounter in the first place! I’ll worry about the price of my gun after I’ve made it back home to my family.

What Is A Carry Gun?

A carry gun is a gun that has one purpose in this world: To give the bearer access to lethal force, no matter where they are. Guns are not carried (or shouldn’t be, anyway) to look cool, or to get street cred, or to get likes on the ‘Gram. Carry guns are tools to be used to protect law-abiding citizens and innocents from those who would hurt them. The only reason a person would carry such a tool is so that they can use them if they deem it necessary. In case I haven’t made myself clear, ‘use them’ means either shooting someone or threatening to do so (when legally allowed and morally obligated to do so, of course).

The whole mindset of worrying about losing some money to the cops after a gun use is troublesome to me. The person who’s concerned with that is not only being a huge cheapskate, they’re also assuming that they’ll survive. The term ‘putting the cart before the horse’ doesn’t even begin to describe how backwards this line of thinking is.

Think about it. This person believes that they are so good in their ability to gunfight that they have no real possibility of losing. Why carry an expensive, highly effective fighting tool when you can do the job just as good with an admittedly worse tool?

I hope they’re right that they win every gun fight they get into. More than that, I hope they never get into one in the first place. That goes for me, too. I hope that I win every gun fight I get into, and I hope that my total number of gunfights is zero. I’m not willing to risk that on a gun I carried because of how little it cost.

Don’t Make Price A Factor

Now, for clarification, I’m not saying that you should only carry expensive guns. I carry a bone-stock M&P 9mm. It’s not even a 2.0. It can be had on Gunbroker for about $400-$450 new in box. I grab this gun and put it on 7 days a week. On rare occasions I’ll wear my LCR in .327 Mag, but that’s only if my M&P is unsuitable for some reason.

I own other guns that cost more. I own other guns that are more accurate. I own guns with better triggers. I own a pair of blasters that fit all three of those criteria, so why do I wear the M&P? Because it is the best tool for the job that I own.

My newest gun, a Sig P210 Target, is a terrible choice for carry. The P210 is objectively more accurate and undeniably more expensive. I’ll never carry it for defense because it’s just as big, twice the weight, and half the capacity. Solid choice for shooting targets, but terrible for carry. It’s also had a 6% malfunction rate so far, but I’ve only put a box of range trash 9mm through it. Complete no-go.

There should only be two factors when choosing a carry gun:

  1. Is it reliable beyond question?
  2. Can you use it effectively?

Price, whether high or low, should never be an issue.

Make Your Life A Factor

Imagine this scenario: Dude gets into a lethal force encounter. He pulls his gun, he has the drop on the bad guy. Our hero gets one shot off and his gun jams. The bad guy beats the would-be defender to death before being picked up by the cops at the local hospital, after being treated for one gunshot wound to the gut.

I hope that’s never me. I do more than just hope about it, though. I also carry the best fighting pistol I own that can be concealed, and I carry high quality ammo from a reputable manufacturer. I practice with this specific gun more than every other gun combined be cause my range time & budget are limited, and I need to be good with this gun. Everything else is for fun, but my carry gun is not.

It is a tool of life & death, and that is not an exaggeration. If I need it and it fails, I may not make it home to see my family again. That’s the stakes I’m dealing with. It’s not just my life, though. Think about your family. If you die because ‘$600 is too much for a carry gun’, what did you save? Got a wife? I hope you have solid life insurance, because she’ll need it to cover the cost of your funeral. Have a kid? How is someone going to explain to them that Mommy isn’t coming home because her budget CCW gun jammed and she was beat to death at a gas station?

With all that in mind, do you really want to put a price limit on your carry gun? Not a limit outside your control, like budget, but one that you place voluntarily upon yourself? No one who is serious about protecting themselves or their families would do something so stupid. The person who voluntarily limits their ability to defend themselves isn’t taking this seriously. They are LARPing.


Choose a carry gun based on it’s function and your ability to use it. The max budget you place on a carry gun is literally the price you’re putting on your life.

Also, sign up for Second Call Defense. In the event that you use a gun in a self-defense encounter, they’ll put you in touch with a local lawyer who specializes in these kinds of cases, they’ll cover his fees (for both criminal & civil trials), get your gun back or replace it, and a lot more. It’s a hell of a service for $15/month, and I could not recommend it higher.*

I’ll leave you with a quote, I wish I remembered who said it.

“I’ve never regretted spending too much money on something, but I have regretted spending too little.”

Stay smart. I’ll see you next Friday. -S_S

*Second Call Defense did not pay me to say that. I’ve had their service for 4 years as of publishing, and I’ve paid for all of it out of my own wallet.

3 thoughts on “Don’t Budget Your Carry Gun

  1. I feel like we can beat that drum until we die, and people still won’t listen. Everyone I’ve ever talked to who is serious on the subject gives the same advice you did: spend enough for a quality and reliable weapon. You don’t need to be crazy with it, but you can’t trust the bargain bin.

    Handguns are even more relevant, IMO. For a professional carrying a long arm and a sidearm, the pistol is already the backup to the rifle going down. If your backup is a piece of junk, then you’re really in a bad way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “I’m not worried about a cop taking my gun from me after I smoke-check some dude, I’m worried about surviving the encounter in the first place! I’ll worry about the price of my gun after I’ve made it back home to my family.”

    My thoughts exactly.

    But I carry a Glock 19… so I can afford to have a spare. 🙂


    1. That’s a legitimate reason.

      I heard a guy (can’t think of his name, sorry) make the case that you should have 3 copies of your carry gun. One to shoot enough rounds through to trust and otherwise just carry. One to train with and put a lot of rounds through and get experience on, but identical to your carry gun so that skill transfers over completely. Optional but recommended is the 3rd identical gun, in case one of the other two breaks you’ll still have a carry and beater gun. I think 3 is more than I can justify, but having at least a pair is a good idea.


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