Since the beginning of the Concealed Carry movement of the 1990s I have seen a never ending array of CCW products come on the market. We now have some type of Concealed Carry law in all 50 states. With the current political climate, we also have a fear of our guns being taken away so there is a get it while you can mentality. However, I have to wonder if we are not trying to replace good training and good equipment with advertising hype. Let’s take a breath and remember that just because someone is trying to sell you the latest gizmo, holster, or gun does not mean that you have to have it, or that it even works for you.
I just read an article in which 18 gun experts share what they carry for their Concealed Carry Weapon and holster. None of the suggested options were the same, thus the variety of products on the market today. However several of the quote “experts” were representing a gun manufacturer. As with all other industries, gun manufactures are not exempt from making cheap products to attract a larger market share, increasing their profits. As with purchasing a house, car, or a gun, the purchase decision needs to be approached with wisdom and knowledge. Some of the experts were old farts and were carrying antiquated guns, that were designed in a time when if you actually used your gun for self defense, you’d be the one in jail. One suggestion was the traditional double action pistol where the first trigger pull was 15lbs and the subsequent ones are 5lbs. I really have to question why such a firearm was ever designed or why anyone would ever buy one. Oh, I forgot the US Military adopted at least one. Hence, one experts use of the aforementioned design. Just because our military or your local police department uses brand X does not mean that it is best suited for you or concealed carry. Police purchase weapons based on criteria that does not apply to the Concealed Carry permit holder. You get to choose what best works in your situation.
As I considered where folks could get this knowledge I realized that even with all the information available on the internet and in print how could you know that it was accurate. You need to do your own research. I would start with people who actually shoot a lot but do not represent a manufacturer or a sponsored competitive shooter. Start with people who run reputable shooting schools. They have seen every gun and holster there are and they have seen them all fail. Ask them which ones fail less, also ask them what type of gun is easiest to shoot well under stress. Equipment for use in dire and stressful situations could be very different than what we may choose to use when we are out plinking with the grandkids.
Reliability is number one and I don’t mean a failure every 10 rounds is reliable. A CCW weapon should go at least 500 rounds without any malfunctions and I would prefer 1000-3000. I will add a old shooters note here, magazines are responsible for most malfunctions, with type of ammo being a close second. This alone weeds out a lot of guns. I can hear all the revolver users saying revolvers don’t care what the bullet shape and there are no magazines to keep them from shooting. Yes but you can’t conceal them as easily as a flat auto pistol, so reliability is number one and the ability to conceal the gun is second. Remember, if you don’t have it with you then it doesn’t matter how reliable it is.
For the ladies, I am sure they are more comfortable having some information come from another female who has experience with concealing a handgun. It is obvious that they face different challenges in finding holsters and methods of carrying a weapon. Men, do not go and buy a gun that you like for your female friend. Let them try several and tell you what feels best in their hand. I would suggest that all females looking to find a concealed rig to seek out other women that have a lot of experience with carrying a gun daily.
To find the perfect concealed rig talk to people who actually carry a gun every day. Carrying a gun for a few minutes or few hours does not qualify someone as a expert. The absolute best information about carrying a gun all day comes from people with similar situations who do carry every day.
I will share 25 years of experience with what I carry and how. I always use a leather holster. They are much more comfortable and conform to the shape you your body over time. The hybrids may work well for Inside Waist Band carry however I can’t carry IWB. The gun should be one that you are intimately familiar with. You should be able to draw, shoot and reload without conscious thought. The holster and gun you choose should blend into your body and no one knows that you are carrying a weapon. You should always carry in the same location and the same gun platform every time. There are exceptions that occur when your clothing options are limited. A good thought process when choosing a concealed carry weapon should be – is the operation of this gun the same as the other pistols I shoot for practice, competition, and plinking ie.. the platform. You can have a Glock in several sizes and calibers all will operate the same and so there is no learning a different platform. Same with 1911 platforms, I have everything from a Officers lightweight 9MM with 3.5″ barrel to a Government Model 10MM with 6″ barrel. All with the same controls. Always carry a spare magazine for the gun being carried, preferably on your belt on the off side. The belt is just as important as the holster and gun. If it supports the gun and magazine carrier then it will be more comfortable and that means less hitching up and fiddling with your rig. Remember the statement above about most malfunctions are caused by magazines. I would also add you need a good light as well. You will be surprised how often you will find a use for it even in daylight.
So there you have one more opinion on how and what to carry. I hope that I have encouraged you to do your own research about what really works and not rely on people who claim to be an expert on what you should carry. Only you can be an expert on your daily activity and life style. Carrying a gun is a very serious decision and I hope that you take it very seriously. My father used to say “that you get what you pay for” the cheapest gun is never the best gun, same is true for the holster or belt. Be prepared to spend enough money to purchase an outfit that will serve you for years to come. I hope that I have helped you avoid the large box of barely used holsters that I have.
“Carrying a weapon is supposed to be comforting, not comfortable” -Clint Smith
A list of my Every Day Carry equipment:
Gun: Ed Brown LW Commander 45ACP (I recommend the Bobtail cut as it prints less)
Holster: Ed Brown LH (no longer available) DeSantis, Wright Leather, Bianchi, and others make similar models.
Belt: Wilderness 5 stitch instructors belt. (mine has Titanium buckle but not necessary)
Magazine Carrier: Wright leather single
Light: Streamlight PT-2L
Guest article written by Henry Glenn.