Yesterday I did a re-qualification shoot for four gentlemen to renew their Iowa Permit to Carry Weapons (PTCW), one of them was shooting his carry gun which was a laser equipped Ruger LCP. At first I was unsure about permitting the use of the laser for requal, but as the title of this post indicates I am a fan of shooting what you carry, and carrying what you shoot. As the LCP was his carry gun, and he fully intends to use the laser, (For a good read regarding lasers, check out this article) I might as well help him use the tools he will be taking to a gun fight should he ever have the misfortune of needing that pistol.
Of the other three students, two were shooting pistols that they do not use as carry guns. One gentleman was shooting a Sig 226, but often carries a 239. He claimed that he couldn't hit anything with the 239 due to it's short barrel...but he uses it for carry where he may need to hit something with it. The range we shot at has fixed 50' target points, we shot THIS qualification using standard IDPA targets in stands between the 50' target line and the firing line. The guy shooting the Sig commented that he had never shot at a target this close. So here's a guy shooting a gun that he won't carry, instead of his carry gun and has never practiced on a target at "normal" self defense distances. He did well enough with his 226, he dropped a few out of the "Down Zero" zone of the target, but passed the accuracy requirement.
Another gentleman was shooting a metal framed S&W single stack 9mm (I'm rusty on my S&W autos other than a few select models) but commented that he did not carry this one, but liked to shoot it more. He needed some assistance and passed the qual on his second run, but switched to his carry gun between runs. Both guns were S&W Autos of about the same size and operation, for all I know they were the same model with some subtle differences. I'll be following up with him later on the details of both guns. Why he prefers to shoot one gun vs. the other will be posted later.
Regarding carrying what you shoot:
I own range only guns that will never see carry. My Browning Buckmark is a great range plinker and I shoot bullseye with it and all, but I know the role for that gun and it stays in that role.
My wife and I make it a point to carry the guns we shoot at the range, IDPA, and training classes. While there are times that an alternative gun may be a good idea, such as using a .22 Conversion kit in times of an ammunition shortage etc. But one should make an effort to shoot their carry gun every chance they get and be MORE familiar with their carry gun than their "range" gun. The gentleman with the LCP did not know the manual of arms for his pistol and we had to figure it out together.
Without a doubt there are some out there that never really get familiar with their carry gun, I recall in one class I was attending that the guy next to me did not know enough about his gun to lock the slide to the rear and I had to show him how. Other than the NRA Basic / First Steps Pistol, while attending a training class is not the place to learn the standard functions of your firearm. For anyone reading this, if you have questions about your gun, how it works, or just want instruction on basic firearms handling and safety, contact your local NRA Instructor and get some one on one training.
Maybe I'm being to harsh as as there is an accuracy requirement and shooters want to use what they shoot best, but when the course is carry related, I feel that one should use their carry gear and that the course is passable with such gear. I will freely admit that when I took my Iowa permit course that I shot a .22 Conversion kit but when shooting an NRA B3 bullseye target at 50' for score, it's more of a bullseye match than a defensive pistol class.
In summary, know your guns and be as familiar with your carry gun as you can be.