(Author’s Update: Since I originally wrote this Concealed Carry book review almost 10 years ago, Massad Ayoob updated the tome to a second edition. The new book expands on some of the ideas and offers new information that readers may find helpful. In its updated version, I continue to recommend the book.)
Prolific gun writer Massad Ayoob is recognized around the world as an expert on the concealed carry and use of firearms for self-defense. Not only has he written for more than three decades on the subject, he has also taught citizens on the use of deadly force through his Lethal Force Institute. [Ed. note: LFI is no longer the vehicle Ayoob uses to teach firearms. Instead, he teaches through the Massad Ayoob Group.] Additionally, he has been called as an expert witness in trials all across the United States of lawfully armed citizen who have been wrongly accused of using force.
Who better is there to write a comprehensive book on concealed carry?
What Is It?
The Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry was written by Ayoob and is designed to be a reference manual to the citizen who has decided to carry a firearm for protection. The author covers a wide range of topics including hardware, mindset, and the law.
I’ve carried a concealed firearm for more than 15 years, and I found this book to be a fresh look at carry methods and gear. For the citizen brand new to concealed carry, this book should be one of your first purchases. It can likely save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in holsters, belts, and even firearms. No such book existed when I started carrying, I seemingly tried every holster and carry style before finding out (the expensive way) much of what Ayoob discusses in the book.
The book starts with the fundamental question: “Why do we carry?” From there, the book moves on to the legal aspects of self defense and the carrying of arms. Ayoob then discusses in detail the selection of firearms, holsters, and ammunition. Plus he writes about the pros and cons of different modes of carry and style of dress. Ayoob wraps up the book with a discussion on the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) and the benefits it can provide to the concealed carry practitioner.
Ayoob does an excellent job in explaining the topics, and answering questions to anticipated questions. The writing style is matter-of-fact and easy to read. If you have read and enjoyed any of Ayoob’s articles in American Handgunner, then you will find the reading of The Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry like a conversation with an old friend.
It is unfortunate that I should feel the need to spend any time talking of Ayoob’s character, but unfortunately there are a few Internet ninjas who have taken unfair shots at Ayoob over the years. From behind the safety of their keyboards, some people have claimed that Ayoob is a bumbling fool and worse.
Let me state very clearly: Ayoob is an expert as both an instructor and handler of firearms. There are few lawyers who are as knowledgeable in the use of force as he is, and most instructors can’t hold a candle to his abilities. While there are reasonable arguments that can be made about his shooting style or classroom technique, I don’t know anyone better versed in the lawful use of deadly force.
Some of the topics covered in The Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry include, but are not limited to:
- state laws and regulations
- ammunition selection
- dealing with the aftermath of a shooting
- firearm choices
- open carry
- clothing for CCW
Additional Concealed Carry Books
There are many really good concealed carry books on the market. Unfortunately, there are some that are not very good at all. Good books can help clarify the legal issues and improve your techniques.
Here are a few of the recommendations that I can make.
Books by Massad Ayoob
Ayoob has written other books that are excellent companions to The Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry. So, if you like his writing, there are plenty of books by Massad Ayoob that can keep you entertained for many hours.
In the Gravest Extreme is Ayoob’s book that teaches when deadly force can legally be used to defend oneself. Although Ayoob talks about it in The Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry, he states that readers should refer to In the Gravest Extreme for the best information on when force may be used. This was my first Massad Ayoob concealed carry book that I purchased – many years ago.
[Ed. note: Since this article was written, Ayoob released a new book called Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense. This new book is essentially an updated and expanded version of In the Gravest Extreme and should be referred to now.]
Additionally, Ayoob suggests the book Stressfire for learning how to shoot under extreme stress. I also suggest the video of the same name. I read Stressfire many years ago, and learned a lot from it. However, when I picked up the Stressfire video last year, it was a significant step forward in understanding the shooting concepts Ayoob puts forth.
Books on Concealed Carry by Others
Grant Cunningham is a solid, reality based firearms instructor and author. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with him, and I have a very high opinion of him and his teaching. He has several good books that I recommend checking out.
The first is Defensive Revolver Fundamentals. This is a revolver book that is focused on self-defense. I’ve got this book in my library and will be writing a review on it shortly. It is an excellent concealed carry book.
Cunningham also has a practical survival book called Prepping for Life. This book shows you how to balance the need for self-defense with the other survival needs you may be overlooking. Everyone should read this book.
Rob Pincus is a polarizing instructor in the shooting industry. Like him or hate him, I believe that he has moved firearms instruction in a positive direction with his incorporation of body alarm response and neurological performance in high stress conditions. Even if you disagree with him on everything else, I encourage you to read Combat Focus Shooting: Evolution 2010. If nothing else, you should be able to carry away some basic concepts to incorporate into your own training – even if you don’t like his techniques.
There are reasonable arguments to be made for and against the techniques Ayoob teaches. However, I’d wager that even the Ayoob critics could learn a few things in his classes with an open mind and willingness to try.
The Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry is an excellent book, and worth the $27.99 price tag. As with a great many things sold there, the Massad Ayoob book frequently sells for less than retail making it a true bargain.
Unlike most other review sites, my articles are not “sponsored” or paid for by any company. Additionally, I disclose all information about a product evaluation so you can properly determine what, if any, biases may have played a role in my review.
First, I purchased the book in this article with my own money. It was not paid for by Massad Ayoob or the publisher. It was not a sample or evaluation copy. Below is a screen shot of my purchase of the book on Amazon:
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