Article By Mike Fisher
Clearly the country has changed dramatically for everyone in the last 10 months, possibly even more so for the firearms industry and specifically, the law-abiding, dedicated concealed carry license holders in America.
These are the people who have taken the time and made the commitment to lawfully acquire their CCW license, get some solid training and then spend the time and money required to maintain the highly perishable skills related to protecting themselves and their families.
Despite all of the ink spilled online and in magazines regarding the best handgun for lawful concealed carry use, the relatively recent issue of ammunition availability has created a new consideration when it comes to firearms and ammunition selection.
It has nothing to do with concealability, cost, how it fits my hand, recoil, sights, accessories, capacity or what the “influencer du jour” is promoting. (I fondly recall the days when the biggest issue we faced as law-abiding CCW license holders was which high-capacity micro 9mm was best……should I go P365 or Hellcat or G48 or is the “old” G43 good enough?) Right now, shooters simply need to make choices based on the ammunition they have or can find.
The reality of the past 20+ years is that we’ve been spoiled for choice, which is great, but it also encourages sometimes pointless over-analysis of guns, ammunition, optics, holsters etc. Sure, there are many great options, but at the end of the day there are a few best practices defined, in my opinion, as “less being more” or “keeping it simple.”
2020 and early 2021 just taught us some hard lessons about the reality of self-defense preparation, primarily that having a gun and sufficient ammunition is far more important than having a specific, highest capacity micro 9mm or the latest generation FBI-protocol spec JHP ammunition.
We all have our preferences and choice is a great thing, but I try desperately to convey to friends and family that come to me for shooting advice, that assuming good basic kit, mindset and running the gun competently take precedent over all else.
Case in point: August 2003 Baghdad, Iraq. Along with 2 friends, I was working in the city on a training assignment as a contractor. We had the best of the best gear when it came to guns, vehicles, armor, communication, cash, even sunglasses and boots. However, despite the vast logistic capability of the American government, good 9mm ammunition was in very short supply. The barter system was then SOP and we quickly acquired the only ammunition available in quantity at the time; 1960’s vintage Iraqi-produced ball. No, it was not any good, in fact, it was horrible stuff, but I was thrilled to have it given the circumstances. The very interesting part though, was that despite not having my favored specific ammunition, I felt very well-armed. I trusted my G19 implicitly along with my training. We just dug deep and made everything else work.
There’s a lesson here that will serve us well as we move into 2021 and that is to be adaptable and focus on what matters given the task at hand. For me, that means proficiency with a variety of CCW type handguns. Like everyone else, I have my preferences, but I also realize they may not always be available or practical or the best choice for a particular scenario. Potential threats won’t care what you do or don’t have, so you’d be well-served to be able to make best use of what’s readily available.
Another example: For as long as I’ve been a lawfully-licensed CCW permit holder, the G19 and later, the G43, have been my choices for a daily carry gun combined with a kydex AIWB rig. Those guns are simple, mega-reliable, accurate enough and durable. However, I have also been training with J Frames and carrying them in a fanny pack.
The relative merits of each platform/carry rig aren’t the point here, but each combination offers distinct advantages in some scenarios, so I train with both. Being different calibers, they also offer me options should 38 Special ammunition be more available than 9mm, for example.
I also keep a 40 cal pistol in my inventory. 40 cal, for a variety of reasons, is my absolute least favorite handgun cartridge and a Sig 229 DAK is not my first choice in a pistol platform, however these guns are incredibly well-made, reliable and were dirt cheap for years as LE trade-ins.
9mm has largely replaced 40 cal as the pistol caliber of choice for most shooters, but it makes sense to have this platform available or maybe a 3rd Gen S&W 40 cal so I can utilize 40 cal ammunition if necessary. Guns like these were and may still be available, giving the owner a lower-cost, yet reliable, alternate caliber option to make use of less-popular ammunition.
Again, another cartridge and another action type to familiarize myself with, but along with this extra baggage, comes the added benefit of another cartridge option should my first choice in 9mm be unavailable.
Ammunition itself can be viewed the same way as guns. Working in the industry, I’m biased and spoiled when it comes to access and choice. I have my favorites. However, I also recognize that my ability to avoid trouble when I can, remain aware of my surroundings and run the gun competently are far more important than having a specific load, handgun or cartridge.
A variety of handguns with proper support gear gives me options so I can use whichever calibers and loads are available during times of prolonged shortage.
Of course, there are loads and guns that stand out when it comes to effectiveness, accuracy, etc., but having access to basic, functional gear that’s readily available is far more important than having the exact kit the internet crowned as “the best” this week.
Try shifting your focus from the gear to the skills and I think you’ll find yourself better prepared to lawfully defend yourself and mitigate competency loss when ammunition is expensive and difficult to find.By reducing the time, effort and money spent chasing the new and shiny and focusing on core skills with solid, though possibly not your preferred gear, you’ll ultimately be better prepared to defend yourself should the need arise.
Vice President of Sales and Marketing | Magtech Ammunition