When I first started writing for TTAG, I thought that anybody who advocated for constitutional carry was a damn loon. We just let everyone have guns? Madness I tell you. Madness! Then I started going through the Texas concealed carry licensing process like a good citizen and realized the truth about bearing arms . . .

The night that the first part of this series went up, I spent a bit more than an hour filling out the application online and sending the state my hard-earned $140. Then I paid an independent group $10 to do my fingerprinting. Of course, they rescheduled; the only person who can fingerprint was sick. Did I mention that the lady who did my fingerprints was the antithesis of customer service? A Walmart greeter she was not.

In the time that it’s taken me to jump through these bureaucratic hoops, I could have purchased a gun and holster. Or I could have paid someone to get one for me. I could be toting it around town right now, totally concealed.

Which is exactly what I would do as a criminal. But as a law-abiding citizen, I’m hoop jumping.

To bring you up to speed, all that’s left to do (on the paperwork front): take passport photos, attend a CHL class, and hand-deliver paperwork to the local DPS (Texas Department of Public Safety) office. Pretty simple, right?

[Note: in many other states, aspiring concealer carriers need to secure a “blue card” (state-issued license for buying a firearm, with its own list of requirements), list references (all of whom will be interviewed by the police), write a letter explaining why you want to carry a gun and more.]

Which leaves the actual self-defense part. I’ve done the following.

1. Begun memorizing the laws surrounding CHL and self-defense. Luckily, Texas is the greatest country in the world and posts a lot of good info in one place. Things like laws, new legislation, conviction rates, reciprocity, sign postings, conduct during traffic stops, and opinionsfrom our Attorney General. If you take the time to read the laws, I think you’ll agree that Texas’ approach doesn’t favor criminals, but still keeps the anti crowds from having a shit fit.1. Started memorizing the Castle Doctrine. A lot of this already applies to me as an unlicensed gun owner, but is great information since there are distinct pieces of language regarding cars, public spaces, etc. If you haven’t taken the time to read our Castle bill, I encourage you to do it. Nick has been brushing up as well now that he is coming down South.

2. Contemplated potential carry guns. I’m going to take my CHL test with a 30-year-old Colt 1911 Government edition. Why? Because I make ragged holes with it, and they won’t let me shoot a Ruger 22/45. No need to mess with success. When it comes to putting holes in a ludicrously large piece of paper at ranges from 3 yards to 15, my 1911 is money. And I was 100% certain that I would be carrying a 1911. Then I read Tim’s piece on the FATS training experience. And him leaving the safety on. . . .

For the record, I hate Glocks. Not because they’re ugly (I have no preference), but I’ve never found one that fit my hand, I hate the trigger, and I can’t shoot for shit with one. However, I’ve frozen up when a stranger talks to me at the grocery store so I’m probably SOL in a DGU if I have to deal with a manual safety. If anybody wants to send me a Springfield XD(m) for T&E, I might find a happy medium. Hell, Ralph might even convince me to carry a revolver. Madness I tell you!

3. Worked on situational awareness and identifying 30.06 signs posted on my favorite stores. I’ve been keeping my head on a swivel lately. Last year, you could spot me as that guy buried on his phone sending emails walking down the street. I’m working diligently to break that habit. Part of that situational awareness has been keeping an eagle eye out for 30.06 signs. Even though I live in the liberal paradise of Austin, local businesses seem to be very gun friendly. Or at least ambivalent about the whole thing. The only place I regularly visit that prohibits firearms is my workplace. It is a good thing thatTexas Senate Bill 321 protects my right to keep my heater in my vehicle while I toil the day away.

4. Looked at holsters and different carry styles. Last week, I was completely decided on a Crossbreed Supertuck. Then Eric did his review of the Dale Frick AIWB Holster, and turned things upside down. I’ve been polling fellow gun guys at work and the results are an evenly split (aren’t they always?) Here are some of my favorites;

  • “Super comfortable.”
  • “You’ll shoot your dick off”
  • “My thought is that it is a great way to shoot your nads off.”
  • “Once you get comfortable with a gun pointed at either your jewels or your femoral artery, it is quite comfortable and easy to draw from.”

It looks like I’ll be another one of those guys with a drawer full of holsters.

Like most new projects, this has been occupying my subconscious like a downtown hippie. There’s a lot to digest, and I haven’t even gotten to the strategy portion of it.

It took me years to learn how to ride smoothly on a motorcycle and I still get passed like I’m standing still by my nearly 60-year-old father. I anticipate a similar experience with concealed carry. Just about the time I’ll start to feel comfortable, I’ll get chin-checked and get to learn something completely new.

Next up, your faithful correspondent takes the mandatory class and sends in his paperwork.

55 Responses to First Time CHL: I’m in the System

  1. If you end up going with a compact or sub compact pistol, take a look at the Remora Holster. Its an IWB, clip-less holster made by a gentlemen in south Florida. I carry either a Glock 19 (everyday carry) or a S&W Bodyguard (workout/gym shorts) using one of these holsters and have yet to have any sort of problem with stability or retention.
    Not quite as “nice” as a crossbreed, but it is also a much simpler and cost effective option.

    • Tried Remora. Comfy, I would put them in the just okay category. The guy selling them is a superb fellow. Worth a look by anyone for sure, didn’t work out for me.

      • I’m a Remora fanboy and likewise use it to carry my well-loved M&P 40c.

        When I was a kid, I named my favorite baseball bat, carved the name into the barrel, and promptly took the world’s longest collar. Since then, I refuse to bestow a name on an inanimate object.

  2. Your first idea about Constitutional Carry is the right one. Just because jumping through the hoops is a pain in the ass, you should not waver in your commitment to the true path.

    • How many firearms does the current system keep from the hands of criminals, Mike? And even if it prevents them from getting them legally, you don’t think they can get one anyway if they truly want one?

    • Really, Mike. Just this morning you admitted that strict gun control in Mexico wasn’t preventing anyone from getting a gun. Is there any concrete, specific and detailed reason to believe that it would work in the U.S.?

    • I myself went throu the “hoops” and obtained a license in the one state I know where you can literally walk into a store and leave with a handgun: Arizona. It has the added benefit of reciprocity with a multitude of other states, as well as making general ownership easier. However, in my home state of NY, it is exceedingly difficult for even an upstanding citizen who follows all of the rules to obtain a handgun permit for anything other than sporting or home defense. This is after, of course, meeting all of the incredibly detailed, arcane requests (i.e. character references from people who are not family members, who must reside in your county, notarized and submitted in triplicate?) that still do nothing but throw road blocks in the way of law abiding citizens. Even now, with a valid permit, having taken ample training, and with no intention to carry concealed or openly, I would be committing a crime just by possessing a handgun in my home if I were to bring one into the state.

      It’s knowing all of this that only reinforces the thought that something about the system is broken.

  3. Look into hybrid Minotaur/Comp-Tac holsters. Depending on which holster you get, there isn’t any of the mounting hardware against your body. You can swap out kydex bodies to accomodate new/different guns. Very adjustable for cant, and ride height.

    The thing I like most about it over the Crossbreed style holsters is that it isn’t huge, and doesn’t take up as much real estate on my side/hip, with a lot of leather. Something that won’t be very comfortable once it starts warming up in Texas for you.

  4. I wouldn’t be as worried about flicking the safety off on a 1911 because that is something you can train as muscle memory when you practice your holstering and upholstering your firearm. remember its isn’t till recently that the concept of safeties being to complicated to effectively use in stress has been Perpetuated. If you plan on carrying concealed as anything more than a safety blanket you need to practice your draw and operation till its engrained in the instinctive pathways of your brain.

    • In a previous TTAG post RF linked to a story abotu a man being robbed here in Missouri who was able to get his weapon out, but the click of the 1911 safety prompted the bad guy to shoot him. He got shot tint he hand/wrist, and later int he incident may have experienced a stoppage because he was unable to fully engage the grip safety.

      Like I said, the 1911 is a wonderful gun but there are alternatives.

      • Yup. Safeties are designed to keep the weapon from firing. The fewer you have to deal with, when you need the gun to fire, the better.

  5. If you think getting a CHL intrudes on your life try getting a government security clearance.
    Many states have a shaming provision that asks you to get 5 people to say you’re not crazy and plan to carry a gun. Some even require a notice in the paper and a visit before a judge. And the dollars add up. O’m OK with training but in many cases there are a limited number of “approved” classes and that drives the cost way up. And oh yeah, none of this is fast so get started today.
    Criminals can’t afford the attention or the fees so they just carry anyway.

  6. DO NOT use a revolver. If you do you will only be allowed to carry a revolver. Qualifying with a semi-auto allows you to use either.

  7. All firearms should be Glocks.
    All Glocks should be 9 mm.
    All Glock 9 mm’s should be Glock 19.
    – James Yeager of Tactical Response.

        • first off on his only 9mm bit his reasoning is flawed big time, just as hollow point technology has improved to make 9mm rounds effective they have done the exact same thing for 40 and 45 caliber rounds the playing field did not change in favor of 9mm the quality of play just increased.

          secondly his argument on quality of fire arms is BS, Sig S&W, STI, RIA, HK, FNH, ECT, ECT all make quality guns that will work reliably day in and day out so why ignore them. along with that Glock has had issues of their own you can check out Glock Kaboom or the issues, a lot of people have had with their Gen 4 Glocks. lastly i don’t buy guns from companies that tell me not to shoot lead rounds out of their guns such as Glock.

        • Okay, finally got a chance to watch. Guy’s got a fixation, that’s all. Other people have had success with other guns, and what works for some people might not work for others.

          As for his last comment, sure I can shoot a Glock 19, but I can shoot other guns better, so why should I buy a G19? Just because this guy has a fetish for them?

    • I agree he’s a bit dogmatic…Controversy breeds publicity. But I carry a Glock 19 loaded with Hornaday Critical Defense…And that’s what I always recommend to people that ask my opinion on what to carry.

    • His reasons all seem anecdotal.

      The inability of his camera’s auto-iris and auto-focus to pick a level and stick to it was driving me insane. I made it about halfway through before I started making 30 second skips.

    • You guys don’t get the point. The speaker is dealing with newbies, not readers of TheTruthAboutGuns. He can either overwhelm his audience with the nuances of handgun design (have you ever tried to explain the difference between single action and double action semi auto pistols to someone who is unfamiliar with firearms?) or he can make a specific recommendation. The former will leave his students confused and feeling that they wasted their money. The latter will get them the information to get started, and they can spend their time at the range instead of doing research.

      In the late 90’s, I taught a community education class on buying your first personal computer. It was a spectacular failure. People were baffled by the information overload. I wish I had taken the Glock guy approach and just made specific recommendations.

      • He’s going way beyond making a specific recommendation. If he had said “I think the Glock 19 is a great gun that will work really well for most people” that would be a recommendation. It’s not attention grabbing in any way, of course, so that’s why he doesn’t say it that way. Much better to make an unjustifiably broad, sweeping statement that’s red meat to Glock fans, that gets posted a lot on boards and blog comments, and gets his school’s name out there for all to see.

        Actually, the more I think about it, the more cynical and credibility killing this all seems.

  8. This is by no means to be taken as a put down of anybody or any place, but I find it interesting that from reading this, and other posts on various forums, Texas, contrary to popular opinion, seems to be less than the perfect gun owners nirvana. Your description of getting your permit is somewhat in stark contracts to mine in WA, where my fee was much less ($55), the application was short, the clerks were friendly, no training was required, and no proficiency test was required. Permit in the mail in 2 weeks IIRC. Plus the fact that “no guns allowed” signs are not legally binding here, makes me glad I have to deal with our firearms laws, and not Texas’.

    But, glad you are going through the process to get legal in your locale.

    • I am not a lawyer, and I don’t play one on television. Given the rather pro 2A feelings here, I think this might be a concession to our excellent Castle laws. Since we have civil immunity for legit DGUs, I think the state needs to be able to point to stringent training to insulate themselves from liability.

      From a political perspective, I believe this also helps make the concealed carry stats on conviction look REALLY good. Making the barriers to entry really high mean that only the most motivated (read safest) get permits to carry.

      • Well, our self defense laws are pretty sweet too. We’re a Stand Your Ground state, meaning your have the right to use lethal force to defend yourself or anyone you’re with from the threat of grave bodily harm or death in any place you’re legally allowed to be. So in your home or on the street, doesn’t matter, your rights are the same.

      • PA was one of the first to cement Castle Doctrine into law(1986 IIRC) and also has a simple permit system, a little too simple in my opinion.

      • I also wonder if our close proximity to the border and larger population has anything to do with it. Either way seems a small price to pay to be able to protect you and your loved ones.

    • Totally agree. I recently traveled to Texas and brought my EDC with me, since they have reciprocity with my state. Of course, I studied up on Texas laws (such as the ridiculous 30.06 law, the 51% law, etc.) before I went, so I’d not run into any trouble. Florida is much, MUCH more CCW-friendly than Texas.

    • Yeah, I sat down to fill out our (Arizona) paperwork to get a CCW the other day …. oh wait, we don’t need permission to carry a firearm. 🙂

    • Popular opinions like this are driven by the anti crowds claims that more people carrying guns will result in a wild west type scenario. Texas didn’t even allow the carrying of guns until 1995. Long after the wild west days have passed.

  9. Tyler:

    First, congrats. I think the laws are stupid. AZ has constitutional carry, but I went ahead and did all the paperwork anyway. The only thing it did for me was make buying guns slightly easier because I don’t have to do the Federal check.

    I too was sucked in to the Crossbreed and found it to be amazingly bulky. You will need to increase your wardrobe size to fit it unless you are currently swimming in your pants.

    I would look hard at the Walther PPQ, maybe get one for T&E? I did the whole gun OCD thing and came back to Glock as possibly the best overall package for what I want in a self defense firearm. They are still nearly the lightest, most reliable, high capacity pistols in the defensive calibers. The trigger is not a 1911 for sure, but with my lack of familiarity with the 1911 platform, I figured I would either forget the safety, or shoot someone un-intentionally with the light trigger.

    I look forward to seeing your updates.

  10. The 1911 is a wonderful weapon, but considering that there are a number of “conditions” you can carry it in, DGU complexity rises. Empty Chamber, Cocked and Locked, Uncocked and Locked…it’s all too much considering that there are options available.

    When I carry large – it’s a S&W M&P .40 – Compact version. 10+1, no g*ddamn safety. Galco King Tuck is a good holster, but I just bought a Remora holster that is easier to manage than the Galco and seems even more secure.

    Usually I have my Diamondback DB9 in a pocket holster – in my pocket.

    • Yes, there are many conditions in which you can carry a 1911, but the point is that you pick one, train with it extensively, and carry that way always. There are options available for every gun and you decide which of those is right for you. If a DGU arises, your response will be trained to work with whatever option you chose.

  11. About Tim’s experience with FATS: I wouldn’t necessarily generalize that too much. Yes, there’s a risk you’ll forget to take off a manual safety, but remember that Tim normally carries a gun without a manual safety, so deactivating a safety isn’t part of his normal draw. As was mentioned before, if you incorporate it into yours, the risk you’ll make the same mistake is much lower.

    That said, do consider the XDm if you want a gun without a manual safety and you don’t like the ergonomics of the Glock. I’m in exactly that camp and I can wholeheartedly recommend them. The Compacts make great carry guns and they just introduced a version in .45 which has me sorely tempted.

    • Xdm’s are superb weapons. If I didn’t carry a Glock the Xdm would be my next choice. But for me the bigger the grip the better. The Glock offers a little more real estate that facilitates a more proper grip faster for me.

  12. Tyler try the M&P. As we all know I love Glocks and the Gen 4 G19 will forever hold a place in my heart. However, I’ve found that the M&P fits me better ergonomically and once I installed the Apex hard sear the trigger felt just as good as my Glock’s, which in turn has allowed mys hooting to improve drastically. There’s a reason the M&P 45 is my EDC and duty weapon. Just some food for thought.

    • FWIW: My friend at Gunsite feels the most malfunction free and durable pistols in their classes seem to be Glocks and M&Ps.

      I also like the XD, and they feel great in the hand. On principle, I won’t buy them due the the grip safety. Yes, it is superficial, but I don’t want another doo dad to keep the thing from going boom when necessary, and they can be missed under stress.

      Grip safeties are for cavalry anyway. They forgot the lanyard hole to go with it.

      Hard to go wrong with any of the above (or 1911 for that matter), this is just internet nit picking.

  13. I carry an XD(M) .40 3.8 in either a SuperTuck or a Remora. The Remora is what my XD lives in when it’s not on my waist, and it serves well for walking the dog, quick runs to the store, etc. Generally, if I’m dressed and out of the house for the day, it’s the SuperTuck, and that usually stays on ’til I’m undressing in the late evening.

    I thoroughly love my XD(M); there’s nothing I dislike about it. When I bought it, it was with no real intention of concealed carry; if I had it to do over again I would buy the compact 3.8 with the shorter grip, as I sometimes have to take care that 1″ less grip would make unnecessary.

    M&P’s are nice too; a buddy has one and I’ve shot the hell out of it, but coming back to my XD always “feels right” and puts a smile on my face.

        • 1. If the grip was slightly slanted the mag would not fall out as quickly as the Glock2. You had mash the hell out of the mag release resulting in my grip changing a little.3. The opposite side of the ambidextrous release rubbed a pissed off callous on my middle finger even after rounding off the edges with a file.these might sound nit picky but between tons of dry firing, range time and matches I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore…it could just be me. Awesome gun though, chewed up my reloads and any factory ammo I put through it without any issues, and I put ALOT of rounds through it.

    • +1 for the XD(m) and a supertuck. I carry the 4.5″ XD(m) 9mm every chance I can. That is usually when I am not in “work” clothes. I would need all new slacks to cram an IWB holster in them.

      Tyler, if your in the Houston area any time soon, and want to try out a XD(m) and supertuck, hit me up.

  14. Is it just me or does $140 + class fees + fingerprinting fees seem a little unreasonable? How is it that states like South Dakota can handle the same process for only $15?

  15. From a fellow Austinite. I too haven’t run into a lot of 30.06 signs here. You will see some no gun allowed signs that aren’t legally sufficient so you won’t face penalties if you ignore them. If they do notice your carrying they can only ask you to leave, which you must do or face trespassing charges. I don’t drink so I haven’t even seen the 51% signs. I use a Crossbreed Supertuck with a Glock 23 and it is super comfortable. In this Texas heat IWB is pretty much a must. At least it seems really hot to a transplanted NYer like me. In NY I carried with a belt holster with no problems.

  16. Tyler, when I applied for my Massachusetts LTC-A (License To Carry –Class A, which includes so-called “high capacity” guns), I was treated with much love by all concerned. No, I’m not kidding. Not all of Massachusetts is anti-gun.

    The local PD printed me for free. The LEOs were very friendly, as were the civilian aides who took my electronic photo (that was in addition to the passport photos that I supplied) and my electronic fingerprint (which was in addition to the ten cards that I submitted). The required class cost $60 (the trainer charged women only $48). The entire process was utterly easy, and I had my license in 30 days. There were no reference checks or interviews.

    As far as the class was concerned, I already knew what the instructor was teaching since it wasn’t my first rodeo. However, by observing him, I learned how to prepare students. Now that I’m certified as an instructor by the MA State Police and the NRA, I try to use some of my former teacher’s techniques to make my presentations more informative and fun.

    Enjoy the journey, Tyler. It really is a learning experience, and you’ll have a great outcome.

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