Fit Matters With A Concealed Carry Gun, Just Like With A Rifle
There is no perfect concealed carry gun, but there are very good concealed carry guns for YOU. There are a number of criteria for establishing that, including firing system, sights, caliber and so on.
A carry gun that's right for you will likely be more pleasurable to shoot. You will probably be able to shoot it more accurately with less work than one that isn't.
So, if, say a, Sig P365 or Springfield Hellcat doesn't fit you well, you should probably think about getting a different gun. Both are EXCELLENT pistols, and make darn fine carry guns. It's more that you should get a gun that fits you, rather than you fitting yourself to a gun.
Many of the other factors that determine whether a gun is suited to you have been discussed before, but we're going to go over the fit. While not the most critical element, you should know that it IS important.
Why The Fit Of A Concealed Carry Gun Matters
The fit of a concealed carry gun is how well the gun matches the shape and size of your hands.
It's basically the hand-held version of the fit of a rifle or shotgun. Rifles or shotguns must fit the user both in length of pull and the drop at the comb.
Length of pull is the straight line distance from the middle of the trigger face to the rear of the butt. If it's too long or too short, your ability to get a correct sight picture is compromised because you have to lean too far forward onto the gun or have to reach too far to get to the trigger. If the gun has a scope on it, you have to lean further forward or further back to see the focal plane, and leaning forward can result in a scope cut.
Drop at comb is the vertical distance between the top of the comb of the stock and the top of the receiver. Too high, and you can't get a good cheek weld. Too short, and you can give yourself whiplash shooting the gun from craning your neck.
This is why you have to actually get fitted for a gun if you buy a really high-end rifle or shotgun, such as an Aguirre y Aranzabal, Perazzi, Holland and Holland, Westley-Richards or Purdey.
Similarly, a handgun that doesn't fit you correctly is going to be harder to shoot well. Does that mean you won't be able to use it all?
Hardly; a shooter of good skill will be able to shoot well with almost any gun. You could hand Rob Leatham or Lena Miculek a gun that doesn't fit them well, and they're still going to shoot very, very well because they have great talent and a heck of a lot of rounds downrange in practice.
But then again, they also choose guns for competition that fit them well. (For you 1911 haters, remember that top-flight competitive shooters use custom 1911 for good reason!) And you should too.
How To Tell If A Concealed Carry Gun Fits You
The first step is to just put your new prospective concealed carry gun in your hand. Does it feel good? If so, then that's a great first step, since you have a comfortable fit in the hand.
From there, there are two key components of handgun fit.
First is trigger reach, the distance from the back of the grip housing to the trigger face. Imagine a line being drawn straight back from the trigger face to the back of the grip. Essentially, the larger your hands, the longer the optimum trigger reach is going to be just as longer arms require a longer length of pull with a shotgun or rifle.
Consider the relative distance between the back of the grip and the face of the trigger on this Beretta 92A1. Seems pretty big, right? Now here's a Glock 43.
Doesn't seem like it's quite as far, is it? It isn't; in DA mode, the Beretta has a trigger reach of almost 3 inches; the Glock has a trigger reach of just under 2.6 inches. If you have smaller hands and shorter fingers, the Beretta may be all but unshootable in DA mode, which has LONG been a complaint of the 92 and similar pistols such as the CZ 75.
Second is the shape of your hands. Are yours slight and slender? Or are your fists hammy as heck?
Specifically, look at your pollicis - the muscles that connect to the thumb - and digiti minimi, the muscles at the bottom of the palm running up to the pinkie finger, often called the "heel" of the hand. If you have barely anything there but skin and bones, you're going to want a bit more palmswell on the grip.
Notice the bump running down the back of the grip on this CZ 75? That's the palmswell.
How to tell if you need a gun with a larger palmswell is pretty easy. Put the gun in your hand and close your grip around it. If you feel any space between the back of the grip in your hand or find you have to adjust your grip at all, you need a bit more.
Granted, that's easy with a lot of modern pistols. A common feature on modern handguns is swappable backstraps, so you can get the fit dialed in.
Additionally, the larger your hands, the more backstrap you'll need to get a good shooting grip.
Not much real estate under the back of the slide on this Glock 26, is there? Look at the CZ 75 up above. There's a large beaver tail, perfect for getting a high, tight shooting grip. The ergonomics of the CZ 75 have long been one of that pistol's big selling points as well as a criticism of Glock pistols. Not, of course, that a Glock 9mm is a bad choice of carry gun, it's just that they aren't the best choice for SOME people.
How A Concealed Carry Gun Should Feel If It's A Good Fit
Once you know what a good fit with a concealed carry gun is, you'll be able to tell instantly if one is right for you.
Your hand should naturally seat high and tight under the backstrap. The grip should fill the hand, but shouldn't be too large either. The crease of the distal knuckle (knuckle before the fingertip) should easily find the trigger face, without having to consciously move your finger to the trigger.
You should be able to point the pistol naturally, as if it's an extension of your hand.
Another test is to pick a target, say on the wall or the floor. REMEMBER NOT TO FLAG ANYONE WITH THE MUZZLE! Now, close your eyes and bring the gun to the target.
Open your eyes. If the gun is a good fit, the sights should be on target.
A Bad Fit Doesn't Mean A Bad Concealed Carry Gun
Bear in mind that none of this means one concealed carry gun is better than another. This is about how well a pistol is going to fit YOU, specifically. A handgun is going to fit me differently than it will because my hands are different than yours, or - look to your left - that guy over there.
A number of very popular pistols are not good fits for me because of the size and shape of my hands. The P365 is an excellent pistol, but it's not a good fit for me due to the short trigger reach and short backstrap.
If you told me that I had to go out and buy a subcompact RIGHT NOW!!!!, based on fit and how well I can hit with one cold, I would probably get a VP9SK - or, if available, a Canik TP9 Elite SC. Both pistols fit me well, and I can hit with them right out of the box. But that's for me; YOU have to figure out what the best fit for you is.
When it comes to a concealed carry gun, your ability to run the gun should be your first and last concern; features and form factor are secondary. Fit is a component of that, just as it is with a rifle or shotgun.
At all times, you should put yourself in the best possible position for success. That includes selecting a concealed carry pistol that fits the intended use and fits you. Granted, you can learn to make anything work, but it's better to get equipment that you can started with right away rather than a pistol you have to adapt to in order to get the best out of it.