Most Practical Concealed Carry
I'm starting a discussion on this question posted earlier – The numbering is for ease of address.
Originally posted by AWR:
1. What does this group consider to be the most practical concealed carry pistols?
2. I know the first thought to cross your mind will likely be "it depends on the shooter (experience, body frame, and personal preference)". I do not have much experience (less than one year), am tall and thin (6' 1", 160 lb), and am wanting something comfortable enough that I will actually carry every day but that will stop a bad guy should the need ever rise…hopefully never.
3. I currently own a Glock 19 and have a Raven Concealment IWB holster. I have found it to work best at the 3:00 or 4:00 position but on my frame it prints badly, only because I am so thin. The Raven holster is top-notch and is comfortable to wear. To help with concealment, I would like something that I could appendix carry, preferably a little smaller than the G19. I have looked at the S&W Shield (9 & .40 cal, http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_75…) and the new Springfield XDs (.45 cal, http://www.xdspistol.com/), which are both small and almost identical in size.
4. Since an appendix carry points the barrel straight down the femoral artery, I am leaning heavily toward the XDs .45 for no other reason than the grip safety. The safety on the S&W Shield is less practical to use since it is stiff and requires two hands to operate…not exactly ideal in most scenarios when the weapon needs to be drawn and used quickly. However, both the Shield and the XDs have gotten favorable reviews and the Shield is quite a bit less expensive.
5. Any thoughts on these? Any other pistols I should be considering? The smaller the better but I'm really not comfortable going smaller than a 9mm. Also, my G19 is 9mm and I would like to have at least one other pistol in another caliber in the event there are ever shortages of ammo.
As to your questions:
1. You already have it, in my opinion. If you can't work a G19, the most sensible alternative is the G26 with magazine extenders. This will maintain all of the previous memory you've built with the 19 (trigger pull, magazine, slide release, takedown, etc) in a smaller package that has very similar benefits (it'll fit your G19 holsters, and it's very reliable.)
2. I am 5'11", 165, and I carry a G19 more often than not. With your build, your carry location is probably your primary problem. 3-4 O'Clock requires a relatively boxy physique to carry discreetly. On thin people, this carry position produces printing easily, and it's more dramatic if you have a narrow waist. Especially with a full or medium sized pistol, you're going to have problems with protrusion of the grip, which is a pretty serious tell.
3/4. The Shield is getting good reviews, and I'm not sure why, but I am just not impressed with the XD series of pistols. This is probably a whole seperate topic, but I mean to address your concerns about Appendix Carry:
Appendix Carry (AIWB) is my preferred method of carry. It keeps my weapon in front of my body, and medial, which allows me to defend it, access it, and keep an eye on it with far less "guesswork" than side carry. I often hear that this is unsafe, but I'll tell you this: there is no one more concerned about holstering or drawing their pistol than me. If you're careless with your draw, or you're used to a SERPA, or similarly designed holster – don't carry AIWB. If you are experienced, and can instinctively draw without pressing the trigger prematurely, AIWB is every bit as safe as any other method of carry.
5. If there are ever shortages, your 9mm will be amongst the last to notice. As a NATO cartridge, there are literally billions of rounds out there. Think beyond the initial buy/theft frenzy, and more towards what will be available post collapse. You can get 9mm in Afganistan or Zimbabwe on the black market. How about .357 SIG? Look to the countries that have already collapse. You might find that it's beneficial to have a few extra calibers, but more likely than not, it'll just be an added logistical headache.
Sorry for the very long delay, but I wanted to make sure you know you didn't ruffle any feathers here! Sorry for the overly "strong" response.
If you had a good experience there, that's great – I know there are quite a few people who *did* enjoy their training there.
The most important thing that I'd suggest is that *no* training and *no* instructor is the "end all, be all".
Front Sight has a strong cirriculum in the fundementals of shooting – that's never a bad thing. My problem is with their business practice, and tendency to over-promise and under-deliver. I was a "first family" member there, and suffice to say, there was not enough steak to accompany the sizzle. Piazza's claims were not in line with the reality there, and his price point is much higher than vastly superior training by other (far more qualified) instructors.
Anyhow, back to practical concealed carry and training, this subject is one where the more you know, the more you need to know. Any time I settle into thinking I'm making progress, a new challenge presents itself. I hope that this thread has helped people find something that suits them.
Also, I'm prepared to admit how wrong I was about the availability of 9mm. Wow. The last year has certainly shown that when panic buying hits, it'll be gone 'post-haste'. For this reason, I'm considering changing my carrying habits to a 40-caliber frame, and buy 9mm and .357 Sig conversion barrels for times when ammunition is sparse.
I just got an email msg you'd posted, hope things are well with you, was a long time back we were all here daily or even hourly, LOL. I am still in very frequent contact with our mutual friend Sam L.
Maybe you or someone else here will know a person or place that will sell me a preban ie. manufactured prior to 1994 G17 17 rd magazine. I just purchased here in MA (don't ask about the wacko laws) a preban 1994 G17 but there are no 17 round magazines, legal for me to purchase and carry, anywhere to be found here or in southern NH, where I tried numeroso gun dealers. It is perfectly legal to ship magazines but they are not to be found.
Feel free to PM me, anybody, with info.
Molon Labe, as my Greek friend says.
Learning to Carry Concealed: The experiences of a middle aged man with a gun-averse belief system and a beer belly.
I assume that I am not the only person here at PP.com who is, or will start, considering carrying a gun especially if social unrest becomes more visible or close-to-home. The logistics of how to do all of this is formidable to a first timer and the information needed is spread out over many forums. This is a summary of what I worked out in hopes that it may serve others who also may consider carrying for the first time.
I recently moved to Virginia, a state where most people own guns and concealed carry permits are readily available to almost anyone who applies (a “shall issue” state). I am right handed, in my late 50’s, and about 40 pounds over ideal body weight creating an unflattering beer belly. In addition to being an unattractive physical feature, a beer belly makes my pants sag, a tendency accentuated when a gun and holster are added to the belt. It also makes it impossible to carry in front of my hip (“appendix carry” or 2 o’clock position) where I would want to were it comfortable, and forced a couple of clothing modifications to get it all to work. Included in this report is a description of the logistical system that I worked out for myself after much trial and error.
Several years were spent encountering my beliefs and attitudes about guns and the people who own them. Are gun owners deranged? Do they have “lower vibrations” or are they “spiritually less developed?” Is it “better” to be non-violent? The writings of Gandhi were helpful on this subject. “The Cornered Cat, A Woman’s Guide to Concealed Carry” was helpful at all levels of this process: logistically, socially and psychologically. Spiral Dynamics theory helped me re-frame an armed defense as “a second tiered response to red meme aggression (a comment that will be meaningless to those who do not think in Spiral Dynamics terms.) And last, several posters here at pp pointed out the magical thinking element of the belief that the individual can “create their experience” by “choosing non-violence.” Alas, we do not control the actions of others and violence can find us despite our intention to live respectfully and cooperatively with everyone. And, 2% of the population is sociopathic.
Now that I have decided to carry, who should I tell?
Absolutely no one. This is a deeply personal decision and EVERYONE will have strong opinions and reactions. The comments had very little to do with me and were completely about their own attitudes and cognitive framework. The only exception is my wife. I would not be able to carry without her feeling safe and comfortable with this decision as this affects her profoundly. Is she safe from ME even when I am angry or jealous? She went though her own adjustment process deciding it was “OK, I think….” and later, “a good idea.” I have learned through painful prior life experiences to hold my tongue when feeling irritated and to contain my own very rare episodes of anger. Both she and I see that I can do this reliably. Marshall Rosenberg's Non-violent communication workshops helped us learn problem solving skills.
The equipment that worked out best for me
1. A Glock 26, in 9 mm with the extended magazine.
. I tried a thinner but heavier gun (Sig Sauer P229), but returned to the Glock due to its lightweight and large capacity (15 rounds).
2a. A CrossBreed “Super Tuck” inside-the-waistband holster, in black leather.
(I couldn't upload a picture of the holster in BLACK LEATHER.) A nearly identical and much less expensive alternative is Alien Gear Holsters and others. This style of holster has a hard plastic “Kydex” shell molded to the shape of the specific gun and a soft flat piece of leather to go against the skin. I applied moleskin to the backside of the leather to further reduce rubbing against my skin. In theory, a shirt can be tucked in over the top of the gun with this kind of holster—referred to as “tuckable.” My experience however was that I would need to keep going to the bathroom every few hours to straighten my shirt as it tended to bunch making me nervous that the gun would become visible. I soon abandoned the approach of tucking a shirt in around the gun and holster but still like this holster the best for all day wear under an over shirt.
2b. UBG Holsters, “The Striker” in black leather. A shirt cannot be tucked in with this holster. This style of holster is prettier, easier to clip on and off, but significantly less comfortable to wear for a prolonged period. I might use this holster if I go out to dinner and a movie.
3. Night sights are absolutely essential. In the dark, you cannot see your gun’s sights AT ALL. Without seeing the sights you cannot aim the gun. It is inconceivable to me that anyone would own a self-defense gun without night sights.
4. An ankle pouch for a spare magazine.
I tried pocket and a belt magazine holders and opted for the ankle location mostly to keep it out of the way during day to day activities.
5. Carry position. I settled on keeping the holster directly on the RIGHT ILLIAC CREST, the “3 O’clock position.” (Imagine that a horizontal plane cuts through your body at the level of the waist. Now imagine that that plane is a clock viewed from above. 12 O’clock is the front center of your body, 6 O’clock your tailbone, and 3 O’clock directly to the right side.) With a middle-aged beer belly, forward of 3 O’clock is too crowded with fat, and behind it, in the 4 O’clock position, the handle of the gun shows in back when I bend over from a standing position and is uncomfortable when leaning against a seat back, such as when sitting in a car, theater seat or sitting on a sofa. In addition, there is a natural hollow next to the beer belly at the 3 O’clock position that hides the gun well on my body type.
I know that this is controversial and that “real commandos” scoff at the use of a laser aiming device because the laser gives away your position. But I can easily imagine situations where I might draw and shoot from an awkward, cramped, non-standard position where the laser would be indispensible. In the event that a quick, awkward, laser-assisted first shot is not needed, the laser can be turned off with the flip of a switch.
7. The cost of this equipment list totals to about $1,300.
Dressing to hide the weapon, support its weight, and make it comfortable
1. Pants: Since I am using an Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) Holster, I needed pants that are 2” larger in the waist to make room for the gun and holster that sit inside the pants. Due to my suspenders requirement (see below), the pants also need to be 2” longer. For those NOT using suspenders for the first time, pants need to be 2” larger in waist and only 1” longer. The extra inch in leg length hides the ankle pouch for the spare magazine (see below).
2. Suspenders: The beer belly-issue again. Sigh. Supporting the weight of the gun demands a stiff belt that is tightly cinched. With a beer belly, I found that a tight belt was uncomfortable and I was always loosening my belt when I sat down, then tightening it again when I got up to walk so my pants wouldn’t sag. After a couple of uncomfortable weeks of this I decided to add a pair of suspenders to support the weight of the gun belt without requiring it to be so tight. MUCH more comfortable. I am wearing the suspenders over the top of a dark T-shirt but under a cover shirt. I found suspenders that HOOK under the belt to be the easiest to put on and the most secure. Walmart. BLACK.
2. Black or navy blue T-shirts worn as an undershirt. An undershirt prevents the inside-the-waistband holster and suspenders from rubbing against the skin keeping it comfortable for all day wear. The dark color blends with the black gun and black holster so that the gun is not visable through a lighter colored over shirt.
3. Over shirts. Shirts with collars and square bottoms, designed to be worn untucked.
Patterned prints and stiffer material (not as soft and flexible as a T-shirt) hide best. I chose to avoid the “tactical” clothing companies due to high cost and that the colors and logos announce that you are carrying to those in the know. I had several favorite colorful print shirts altered by a seamstress to square bottoms so I could wear them untucked without looking sloppy.
6. So we have: black gun, black leather holster, attached to a black belt with black clips, a black (or navy-blue) T-shirt, black suspenders. This completely eliminates seeing the gun through the outer shirt and makes a brief glimpse under the outer-shirt unlikely to make the gun recognizable. Then an outer-shirt is worn over the top of all of this with a pattern and can be of any color–bright and pleasant are my favorite–I don’t want to like a ninja. It was very surprising to me that I could be in public, wearing a gun, and have it be unnoticed. Took some getting used to.
7. On an ankle, a dark dress sock, then an ankle magazine pouch is velcro’ed on, then a second sock is place over the top. I bought 12 pair of identical dark colored dress socks so that I could use them in 3s.
8. Where absolutely perfect concealment is required, a light jacket or sweater can be added over the top.
9. For the intense summer heat, I have found no comfortable way to carry. Gun and holster and everything else get sweaty and any extra layers are unappreciated. But a belly band worn under a white tank top with an unbuttoned casual shirt over the top.
Getting dressed: the routine
1. put on under shorts and black T-shirt.
2. before putting pants on, insert the belt through the pant’s belt loops and the attach and position the empty holster on the belt.
3. put pants on and fasten the belt.
3. attach the suspenders to the belt and snug them.
4. check the gun: insert the magazine, chamber a round and put the gun into the holster. (watch where it is pointed and keep your finger off the trigger)
5. put on the over shirt.
6. put on socks, ankle magazine pouch and additional covering sock
7. put your wallet in your pocket with your picture ID and concealed carry permit.
Practicing, building familiarity, muscle memory and comfort.
I purchased a laser training pistol from NextLevel called a SIRT. It is plastic, has the same shape and weight as a Glock and “shoots” a flash of green laser light. The SIRT cannot shoot actual bullets, so I’m unlikely to accidentally shoot a hole in my living room wall while practicing…….
1. We have a bird feeder outside our window. I shoot at the birds.
2. My wife throws a tennis ball for our dog to fetch in the back yard. I stand off to the side a bit and “shoot” the dog as she dashes back and forth across the lawn.
3. In the living room at night, I turn off all of the lights and “shoot” the lamp shades (which are about human size) in near total darkness. The gun sights are not visible in this setting and aim is by kinesthetic sense only. This exercise showed me how essential night sights are.
When you cannot carry legally
In Virginia, a gun cannot be carried into a post office, courthouse, airport, school, church or bar. A small metal locking gun case called a NanoVault 300, with a cable anchoring attachment, can be kept
in the car anchored to the seat frame and stashed under the front seat for these moments. Leave the holster on your clothing concealed, but slip the gun and spare magazine out of the holster and ankle pouch and into the case, lock it, and slide it under the car seat. Then lock the car doors.
Photocopy state reciprocity map and regulations
Print out this map and fold it up and put it into the NanoVault under the front seat of the car. When on a road trip, the gun should be unloaded and locked in the NanoVault when traveling through a state without concealed carry reciprocity with your own state. On the back of the map I wrote the list of prohibited places within Virginia: post office, courthouse, airport, school, church and bar.
I have very little time right now and im replying by phone, but this is, simply put, one of the best write ups on the subject I’ve seen and its worthy of being its own article.
Personally, I think your choices and methods are very close to best practice, to include the SIRT pistol.
As far as commandos not liking lasers, that’s because they have other commandos. A laser can be a tremendous asset in the low light world, and as you say, when firing from non traditional postures from which a good sight picture is not possible (and there are FAR more instances of this than most “range” shooters are comfortable with…)
The only caution id even suggest is the crossbreed holster, which tends to break very easily during physical altercations. chances are, if you’re in one, that will be an “afterthought” but its something we can talk on if you want.
Thank you for the time you put into this. Its excellent.
Informative post, thanks.
Something new I've just ordered for my backup mag, could be helpful to others. Will post when I get it. An interesting concept. I used a folding knife with a clip to game it out and decided it could work well for me.
You probably can find some preban glock mags on gunbroker.com. Here is one that is some off brand. I took a quick look and they seemed to have several but sometimes the price is absurdly high. If you use the search term "pre-ban glock mag" you probably can find the list and if you check periodically you might be able to get some at a decent price.
That looks interesting. Let us know how you like it.
Nice write up. Thanks for putting in the effort. It sounds like you are getting squared away.
As Aaron said, not a lot to take exception to.
I also carry in the 3 o'clock position. Classes I have attended proved that using the laser for normal shots is slower than using the sights, but you are absolutely correct in the value of the laser for non-standard shooting positions.
The SIRT was a good choice and you can get a lot of training value from a dedicated dry fire practice schedule with periodically confirming using live ammo at the range. The savings on ammor will pretty much pay for the SIRT.
You did not mention getting training. That would be my recommendation for your next step. If you have the chance to attend Massad Ayoob's MAG-40 class I think it would be good. But it does not seem to have any this year in your area. You should also read his book "In the Gravest Extreme" if you have not already.
Assuming you are able to get at least some basic instruction on drawing from the holster from under your cover garment, then you should practice drawing that way with your SIRT. I took an excellent class from Mike Pannone called "Covert Carry" and he said that 90% of winning a gun fight is weapon dexterity. Being able to smoothly access your pistol before the other guy can means a lot.
Thanks again for the write up and stay safe.
Just for a "for what it's worth" comment, I used to carry my spare magazines in a leatherman pouch @ 9 O'clock. They were sturdy, offered good retention, and were discreet as well.
I've changed up how I carry my pistol mags, but I wouldn't have any heartache about going back to the leatherman pouch. One thing I will say, is that it's a retention pouch – so it *will* be slower.
However, it'll also be more likely to hold your magazine should you take a tumble, get knocked down, or so forth.
Joe- how did you like the Mike Pannone class?
I just checked his YouTube videos on the subject and his material is *very* similar to what works well for me. I haven't taken a raw "shooting" course in …well, years, but it might be time. I keep seeing Pannone and DeFoor referenced as the leading instructors, but haven't put too much thought into it. At the top, the skillsets all look very similar.