Good choice! Selecting the right gun for everyday carry in Massachusetts



Making the right choice for an everyday carry (EDC) gun is a process. We help people daily with this choice, and people are often surprised that the gun they come in to buy for EDC, is often not the gun they leave with. A lot of times people are looking for a certain brand because of a loyalty to that brand, or they have had good experiences with it. Others come in with a specific gun in mind due to a recommendation of a friend, or something they read online (like this).

This process should not be taken lightly. If you’re ever in the position of needing to defend yourself, your EDC choice could be a matter of life or death.

A good place to start is a modern striker-fired gun, that is concealable and fits your hand well. A striker-fired gun is also known as a safe-action pistol, in which the trigger loads up tension onto a firing pin (by drawing it back), and then releases it. There is no traditional hammer to hit the firing pin. The trigger pull is consistent, light, and it is safe to carry with “one in the chamber” (even without a safety). Unfortunately for us in Massachusetts, this isn’t as simple as you might think.

We have two bodies governing what guns dealers may legally sell in Mass. The list of guns we can’t sell is a lot larger than the ones we can… There is the EOPS (Executive Office of Public Safety) list that the state puts out a couple of times a year, listing weapons that have been approved by an independent testing lab to meet the criteria set forth by Mass. law found in Chapter 140 of MGL (Mass. General Law). Then there is also the attorney general’s regulations (Commonwealth of Mass Regulations or CMR), which are a series of rules that narrow what we can and can’t sell in Mass. But that is an article for another day. See here for more info.

Through a lot of firearms training and from talking with other instructors, I have been a proponent of a 9mm striker-fired pistol for a long time. I believe a gun should get into the fight with as little encumbrances as possible. This is why I choose a Kydex (molded plastic composite) holster (I like Insane Kydex Creations) with no external retention device to defeat, and a striker-fired weapon without an external safety.


That leaves a very short list of guns for me to choose from. The good news is, the ones available are good choices.

Single stack

With a single row of bullets in the magazine, which results in a thinner grip, usually the slide will be thinner, and lower overall capacity (holds fewer bullets).

  • Walther PPS
  • Smith and Wesson (S&W) M&P Shield

With safety:

  • Kahr P9 or PM9
  • Ruger LC9S

RugerLC9S1 RugerLC9S2a

With or without a safety:

  • S&W Shield

SW9ShieldNS2 SW9ShieldNS

Double stack compact

Double stack is a staggered row of bullets in the magazine resulting in higher capacity, but a wider, thicker grip and slide.

Without safety:

  • S&W M&P 9c


With safety:

  • Ruger SR9c

Full size no safety

Large, full-frame pistols are harder to conceal, but are great for managing recoil and home defense.

Without safety:

  • M&P9
  • HK VP9
  • Steyr M9A1 (The jury still out on this one. I haven’t played with one yet.)
  • S&W SDV
  • Walther P99


A good alternative to striker-fired is the HK Pistols with LEM trigger. It is a double action only (DAO) trigger, which, like a striker-fired trigger, has the same consistent trigger pull every time. Traditionally this resulted in a very heavy pull, but the HK LEM (stands for law enforcement modification) has an assist device that lightens the trigger pull to 7.5 to 8.5 lbs. from a stouter 12 lbs. double action without the assist.

Pending the outcome of a Comm 2A (Commonwealth Second Amendment Inc.) lawsuit filed with the state’s attorney general’s office regarding the sale of Glocks, this is a fairly small list. If you live in a FREE state, you have a lot more to choose from. We hope this will change in the near future in Massachusetts.

I know everyone has an opinion on caliber, type, brand and best gun to get the job done, but you need to make sure that the gun fits your hand, and that it is the most efficient gun you can use to get into the fight.

Multiple-shot strings of fire are the most likely scenario you would encounter, and having a gun with an easy-to-manage recoil while still being a well-proven caliber is why 9mm gets the edge. I use an asterisk here, and say if you’re using a gun in your line of work, you should train with what you are issued.

What do you think? What should a Bay Stater consider when purchasing an EDC gun?


Toby is the president and co-founder, with business partner Brendon Bricklin, of Cape Gun Works in Hyannis, Mass. He was first introduced to shooting at the age of 12 through the Boy Scouts of America, and while it started as a hobby, it grew into a way of life. His new-found passion deepened until, on his 18th birthday, he walked into the local police station to get his license to carry. Right away he saw the need for an indoor public shooting range on Cape Cod, and the seed was planted. Toby is now carrying his love for firearms, self defense, and the Second Amendment into making that important business venture a reality. Toby and Brendon are up to the biggest challenge of their lives: creating New England’s first state-of-the-art indoor shooting facility. Toby brings with him 12 years of business experience; his fine woodworking company has been employed by luxury homeowners on the Cape and islands for 20 years. He feels blessed to be continuing successful businesses in both of his chosen fields: firearms and woodworking.

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6 Responses to Good choice! Selecting the right gun for everyday carry in Massachusetts

  1. Well written Toby, you and your staff where great in helping Fran choose her Kahr P9 (now mine) and her Kahr Pm9 and S&W 380 Body guard. she was able to see your choices and make the best decision for herself.


  2. Don Hogan says:

    Good article. I trust all your choices and recommendations can be obtained at Cape Gun Works?


    • echealy says:

      Yes, Don. Cape Gun Works should carry everything mentioned, but if they happen to be out of something, they’ll make sure to get it in for you in a hurry.


    • Cape Gun Works helped my wife choose her 1st/ 2nd / and 3rd hand guns. They allowed her to handle different guns and explain the difference at a time when she knew little. She loves going over from the Vineyard to shop and get great service. Shrine has a Kahr P380 and she loves it.


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