Carry Gun Trends

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posted on February 1, 2012
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Two trends were apparent in the new firearm models at the recent 2012 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show: One was increased interest in .22 Long Rifle chambered guns reflected by a host of new variants; the other was a renewed surge of small (or smallish) guns that can be concealed on one’s person (not a new concept, obviously). I have addressed the former and it is now time to look at what some of the handguns covered elsewhere in the 2012 SHOT Blog really mean.

The spate of small .380 ACP carry guns, pioneered by the Kel-Tec P3-AT and hitting its zenith with Ruger’s interpretation of the concept with the LCP, continues, but not in a way that I foresaw. It seems that convenience of size and weight—despite the advice of gunwriters who insist nothing less than a 5-inch .45 ACP M1911 with proper sights is the only carry solution—some people are willing to accept compromise in the area of ballistic performance to have a gun that is convenient to carry all day, every day.

Next came 9 mm Luger-chambered pistols of similar, but marginally larger, size and weight to supplant the .380s that consumers flocked to in unprecedented numbers. With guns such as the Ruger LC9, the Beretta Nano, the SIG Sauer P290 joining the likes of the Kahr K9, CM9 and PM9, certainly this would spell the end of the Lilliputian .380s? Not so. Not by a long shot.

In January, we saw the introduction of the Kimber Micro CDP in .380 (complete with attractive Crimson Trace Lasergrips) and the Colt Mustang Pocketlite (really, it’s a Colt) demanding huge attention at the show. The Kimber is about as nice as a single-action .380 ACP is going to get, and the Colt, well, it’s a Colt, really. Actually, I have received a sample and this nice little gun, I'm told, is actually assembled in the Hartford factory. These join the SIG P238s in the single-action .380 ACP field. There was quite a lot of buzz about these little guns, and while some thought them late to the .380 party, I am told that orders for both were extremely strong.

Of course, there is also the single-action SIG Sauer P938, which is an upsized version of the P238 chambered in the more defensively sound 9 mm Luger cartridge. It seems that many of the subcompact, single-stack 9 mm guns shown last year—save the Ruger LC9—in this class had sluggish delivery. Demand existed and is now being served by guns such as the Bersa BC-9 (I have asked for a sample of to review) and the Diamondback DB9, plus the Kahrs, Kel-Tecs, Rohbaughs and others that have been the standing leaders in the category.

Magazine capacity is also rearing its head in the concealed carry firearms fracas. The SIG P224 that will be on the cover of the April issue of American Rifleman (we received the first two) trades width for increased magazine capacity. It has a shorter butt and slide than a P229, but it keeps the double-column magazine of its progenitor. It also accepts P229 magazines with a collar, giving a short slide with a full-size frame when desired. Not exactly an ultra-thin compact is it? But it joins the Springfield XD(M) Compact in its ability to be carried with a flush-fitting lower-capacity magazine as well as be used with a full-size magazine when desired. So apparently adaptability is a trend, too.

But if you are only going to get one or two shots, maybe five, why not step up to the .45 ACP? No one sane doubts the sagacity of .45 ACP as a defensive cartridge. This is the thought behind guns such as the Heizer Double Tap, which delivers two rounds of 45 ACP. We have been assured we will have the first one ready for review. Also promised to us is the extremely intriguing Springfield XD-S, the first in that family of polymer-framed handguns to have a single-stack magazine. It’s chambering is .45 ACP, with five more in the magazine. I shot the prototype, and it is far more manageable than I thought it would be—this will be one of the year’s most successful handguns.

What story do all these disjointed pistol introductions tell? It’s simple: The appetites of those seeking handguns for personal protection anywhere they have a right to be are wide and varied, and apparently insatiable. More and more Americans are choosing to be responsible for their own armed self-defense and those who do so are being offered more and more choices on what is the ideal hardware for their individual personal security solution. Gunmakers have recognized the demand and are striving to offer the right gun for you, regardless of your particular “solution.”

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