Concealed Carry

If I Could Only Have One: Pistol Edition

CZ 75 pistol and P-01 pistol

Playing the “if I could have only one” topic is immensely interesting.

After all, there are many times when our funds or opportunity to obtain firearms is somewhat limited.

When working-up research around the gun shop, you seldom find anyone who is interested in owning only one gun.

Most purchase several after getting the bug with the first gun. But then, some are limited to one gun for some time due to budget constraints.

There are some on a tight budget. Others have a huge budget by my standards.

The latter may own a single very good handgun, such as the Nighthawk or Wilson Combat.

If you don’t go through a lot of handguns and waste money switching up too often, you may afford a very good handgun.

Very few people given the choice of owning a single handgun will choose a low-end type. Most will start with the GLOCK and go from there.

If you listen to both the old hands and the young shooters, you will hear interesting stories that have quite a bit of education behind them.

Even among those of us that own many firearms, this intellectual exercise is a learning experience concerning what type of handgun folks like and use.

And of course, we may carry only one handgun at a time, so this is important. 

handgun in leather holster
The GALCO Royal Guard inside-the-waistband holster is ideal for concealed carry. 

Semi-Automatic Pistols

When you look at semi-automatic pistols, there are many more choices than revolvers and the versatility is amazing.

I chose a four-inch barrel revolver as the one revolver.

When it comes to the autoloading pistol, the 9mm is the middle ground and makes a lot of sense for most of us. The cartridge is very versatile.

The 9mm may use inexpensive FMJ ammunition for training. Handloads are especially useful. Personal defense loads are plentiful and effective.

+P loads offer rapid expansion and excellent performance.

With the introduction of the new Hornady Hunter all-copper bullet ammunition, the 9mm Luger may be useful for many types of hunting.

In short, the 9mm is the everyman’s caliber. The 9mm isn’t difficult to control and in the right handgun, offers excellent accuracy potential.

That is the bottom line — the right handgun. 

CZ 75 B hammers
The CZ lends itself to customization and personalization. 

Caliber Selection

A fairly large 9mm handgun is still thin enough in cross-section that the handgun may be concealed in a proper inside-the-waistband holster.

The Galco Royal Guard is a true wonder holster in this regard.

With excellent fit, good molding, dual belt loops and the FBI tilt, this holster is useful for concealing a serious size fighting handgun under a pulled-out sport shirt.

So, we have chosen the caliber and the carry mode. Next comes the handgun.

If we are only using one gun, it should be a very reliable handgun, one proven in extensive institutional testing.

A double-action first-shot pistol offers a degree of safety when carrying on the person and keeping at home ready simply laying beside the bed.

Among the very best of the type is the CZ 75 B.

This pistol features a proven design, a smooth double-action trigger, excellent accuracy potential, and good combat shooting ability.

Accessories and parts are plentiful. 

Hornady 9mm Ammo
Hornady ammunition delivers good performance. 

CZ 75 B Pistol

The CZ 75 B features a lower bore axis than most pistols. The slide actually runs inside the frame, rather outside on frame rails.

The grip fits most hands well.

Once you learn to control the trigger with a smooth, straight-to-the-rear compression, you will be a formidable shot at typical engagement ranges.

Once the first double-action shot is fired, the following shots are fired single-action with a short, crisp trigger press.

The CZ 75 D Police is my favorite variant. This pistol uses a decocker, rather than the original manual safety.

A loaded-chamber indicator allowing both tactile and visual confirmation is part of the design. I have added Hi Viz sights to this pistol.

These sights allow for rapid sight acquisition and real accuracy. I have added a set of Guncrafter Industries grips.

These stocks are thinner than the factory CZ grip and offer a better balance of adhesion and abrasion. This is a very good combat pistol. 

CZ 75 pistol
Among the most attractive of handguns is this .22 CZ version. 

Accuracy Potential

I usually carry the pistol loaded with the Hornady 115-grain Critical Defense loading. Expansion and penetration are well-balanced.

A five-shot 25-yard group of 2.15 inches is accurate enough to ensure a trained shooter may be a real problem for an adversary well past 50 yards.

Recoil is modest. This isn’t the smallest pistol, but it isn’t too heavy and rides comfortably in the Galco Royal Guard.

I usually deploy the pistol with the MecGar 18-round magazine. That is a good reserve of firepower. 

CZ 75 kadet kit
CZ’s .22 caliber conversion offers excellent quality and match-grade accuracy. 

Additional Advantages

An advantage with the self-loader, is easy caliber interchangeability.

By changing the slide, barrel, recoil spring and magazine, you may convert the 9mm to .40 and other combinations if desired.

The most useful is the Kadet .22 caliber rimfire conversion for the CZ 75 B 9mm. This is a superbly fitted and finished combination.

The Kadet features fully-adjustable sights.

With this combination, you have a superb personal-defense handgun and an equally well-thought-out .22 caliber pistol.

There are other combinations that may work well for many shooters. The SIG P226 or Beretta 92 come to mind.

The CZ 75 is my choice for the one-gun shooter. 

What would be your one pistol? Let us know in the comments section below!

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (18)

  1. Get the caliber that is most manageable and comfortable grip to fit you in your hands … For me I ALWAYS want a hammer on my pistols … I know 100 % of Glock and 1/2 the Sig and Springfield owners will give you 100’s of reasons sticker fired pistols are better. I like a real safety and like to see a hammer when I pull the trigger. Glocks, Sigs, Rugers and Springfiedls are all great but give me a good Beretta 92 or CZ 75.

  2. A Springfield XD-S 45 3″ barrel. The single stack clip is slim for CC carry and six rounds is enough knock-down power in the .45 caliber for me.

  3. I have a lot of handguns but if I could only have one it would be my Glock 27. I like the .40 for the increased stopping power over 9mm with less recoil than .45, but I could also make it shoot 9mm with a simple barrel and magazine swap.

  4. If I could only have one pistol it would be Hands down my Springfield Armory 1911 45ACP. I have shot it for so long now recoil is not an issue, and being able to reload for it is a real plus. And as they say I shoot a 45 cause they don’t make a 46.

  5. Consider buying a gun where the magazines can be used in other guns such as EDC or Carbine rifles.

    For example: the Beretta Cx4 Storm Carbine can accept 92 magazines, so that would make the ideal gun the Beretta 92FS or the Kriss Vector which can accept G17 magazines, so that would make the ideal gun the Glock 17 or 19.

    EDC guns and full size guns that accept the same magazines should also be considered, so you can “stock-up” on only 1 magazine type and use it across platforms: EDC, home defense, car/camping, etc.

  6. Hard to beat a CZ75, thats why most competition pistols are either a CZ or a copy. I have several from a Tactical Sport down to a PCR, they fit your hand like no other.

  7. I fall under the 1 gun tight budget category. My 1 gun is my Glock 19!
    I’ve owned others, but always sold to buy another I liked better. I’ve had my Glock for 9 years and I absolutely love it! Nothing flashy, durable and very reliable!
    I once ran over 3000 rnds. of FMJ, JHP and Lead Cast bullets through this pistol without any cleaning at all with zero malfunctions. I regularly run 300-500 rnds. before field stripping. Once every 12-18 months, I completely strip, clean, oil and reassemble. It has never let me down!
    I hopefully will never need it in a self defense capacity, but if I should, I know I can depend on it!

  8. My everyday off duty carry is my Springfield Armory XD 40 with a 4″ barrel. I use Mecgar 13 rd mags. I do 13 + 1 for my first load. The grip is not too wide, not to small. It has good purchase. I did put on Tritium Night sights. I carry it in a DeSantis Speed Scabbard when in casual clothes: I use a Galco Miami Classic when in a suit, gives me easy access and less people are aware I’m carrying; and sometimes IWB Galco King Tuk. Works well. Using any of the three I can access and engage quickly. I practice with each holster to help with muscle memory retention. I use Hornady Critical Duty as opposed to Critical Defense. I only use my Glock 19 for duty use since that is what we are required to carry. Not my favorite.

  9. I don’t have as many pistols as I used to but I like the ones I have. Mainly Glocks and Sigs. I shoot them all well.

  10. After refinishing an antique chest for a friend in the late 70’s, he offered me cash or a 1939 production Remington-Rand 1911 .45 ACP from the Syracuse NY US Army Ordnance plant; my choice! It has the inspection stamp of the facility commanding officer. He carried the weapon through WWII in Europe. As I am not a total idiot (according to m wife), I turned down the cash. It is a dead-on shooter and the recoil is not an issue for me. Not only does it shoot well, it looks like a piece of art and history.

  11. My choice seems to be a bit diffrent then most. Id choose a Bersa Combat Plus. Its a .380 acp walter ppk clone. Fixed barrel, high-viz sights and 15+1 capacity. Personally have shot 1000+ rounds through it with only a few break in hangups. Also at a measured 15 yards I have shot groups that could be covered with a quarter. The final reason is if Im ever in a public area and Im forced to use my CC, I dont have to be as worried about over penetration of my target, even If follow up shots are required. The less recoil helps keep the small frame pistol on target and a 99 grain rapid expantion rounds will still make the target think. Just my two cents!

  12. Mine would be my Sig 226. Accurate, regular mags hold up to 17 9mm shells. While I own several smaller frames for cc when I am going into sketchy places for work this is my go to.

  13. Hopefully, I will never have to choose just one handgun. But, if that were to happen, I would continue on with one of my 1911 Government models in .45 ACP as Uncle Sam issued me something similar to at least one of those I own when I arrived at my overseas in country duty station and I am well acquainted with its utility in times of, shall we say, stress. I am not one to shy away from this weapon because of perceived recoil; for me, it is just something that goes with it, part of what makes it what it is and I don’t find it to be problematic, nor does it prevent me from making quick follow up shots. For the record, I am rather short of stature and build but recoil has never been that much of an issue for me.

    My biggest decision is which one would I choose. I hate making that kind of decision. It is like picking your favorite child; you shouldn’t have to make that choice. I love 1911’s and I judge most gun stores by how many different 1911 models they carry. Over the years, I have been in more than one store where at least one person behind the desk actually verbalized that they could not understand why anyone would want such an outdated gun. I nodded and left without saying a word. I never went back to any of those establishments and, no surprise to me, none of them staid in business for very long.

    Another reason for picking a 1911 is I have a .22 upper conversion for it, giving me multiple options for practice and even taking out small game should I so choose. When I did my concealed carry class, the instructor said we would be shooting at his private range and he would be keeping all the brass. He okayed each person’s weapon before we brought them out. His eyes lit up when he saw my 1911. His first question for me was why did I choose that particular model. He nodded and smiled when I told him about that being my issued sidearm long ago and far, far away in a rather inhospitable environment. He was not that pleased when we arrived at his range and he saw that I had the .22 conversion mounted on my piece. He had already allowed one .22 and had to allow mine. He was not happy to not get my .45 brass. I was happy to not give it to him.

    Some years ago, a friend had been given several bricks of .22 LR ammo and he had no weapons in that caliber. When he asked me if I could use them, well, let me say, I did not hesitate to accept them. It will be a while before that runs out.

  14. 73 yo. Makes a difference. We don’t go to sketchy places or city venues anymore. Don’t cc. Wa state laws dictate firearms must be locked up. They are. Except former LE 870 20″ in bedroom closet. In the RV a SW 39 nickel. Just because I like it.

  15. A year 1919 manufactured S&W Model 1905 4th change 32-20 WCF, 5” barrel, blue steel revolver.. simply because I can reload for it, and with 3.5 grains of Bullseye & copper-clad 90 grain FMJ bullets, it’s a joy to shoot, enjoyable type of recoil, with all of the down-range benefits of a Magnum. Bullet drop doesn’t exist at pistol range yardages, and the bullet energy holds up well at 100 yards. Plus, I can carry this thing in my pocket if necessary. Accurate, nostalgic, no expiration date. I sleep with this relic, but it does snore.

  16. P365XL. Hands Down. 12 to 15 rounds. Ultra concealable. Easy as heck to shoot. Plenty good enough for home defens. Not even close.

  17. If I could have only one handgun, it would be a superbly reliable double-stack modern 1911, such as the lamentably discontinued Remington Recon Commander which I already happily own. I carry it comfortably in an IWB holster from SwapRig.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit exceeded. Please click the reload button and complete the captcha once again.

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.