I’ve gone through a number of everyday carry guns in the last few years: a GLOCK 19, Kahr PM9, Smith & Wesson 642, Springfield XD-M, FNS-9 and a few other gats that lasted a couple of weeks. As an outside-the-waistband (OWB) guy, the GLOCK, Springfield and FN printed like The New York Times. I wasn’t happy with the Kahr and Smith’s capacity and caliber. Early this year, I bought a Commander-sized Wilson Combat X-Tac Compact. Just cause. I thought, no way I’m going to carry it. It’s expensive. It’s got an external safety. It’s heavy. It’s capacity limited. And questions surround 1911’s reliability, generally speaking (the $3250 Wilson hasn’t choked once). But carry it I do. Here’s why . . .
1. 1911’s are easy to conceal
Most full-sized guns are only marginally wider than a 1911. But it’s a significant difference. Take it from Mr. OWB, a gun guy who conceals his weapon under a sightly over-sized T-shirt (over an Under Armor T-shirt for snag-free unholstering). Even when I put the GLOCK, Springfield and FN in a snug-fitting K Rounds Kydex holster the guns’ outer corner pokes out, ruining the line of my T-shirt. Tellingly.
The slim-line Wilson 1911 disappears. Period. Gone, As for the gun weight issue, a sturdy gun belt – combined with an effective weight loss regimen (I’m now an OWG) – makes the ballistic boat anchor an easily supportable proposition. Seriously. It’s less of a problem than fitting all the rest of my everyday carry clobber (knives, spare mag, flashlight, iPhone, sunglasses, keys and wallet) in my pockets.
2. 1911s are deadly
At the risk of re-igniting the caliber wars, I’m much more comfortable carrying a .45 than a 9mm or snappy-ass .40 for self-defense. Most defensive gun uses are 3-3-3: three yards, three seconds, three rounds. I’d rather go into this close encounter of the lethal threat kind with 15 big-ass Golden Saber hollow-point .45s than 31 HP 9mms – given that I’m unlikely to fire that many shots, the .45 offers superior lethality and practice has made combat accuracy equal.
Yes, I’d rather have 31 .45’s. If it weren’t for concealment issues (as above), a double-stack .45 would be ideal. As for the safety, yes, well, there is that. I’ve drilled like a bastard – and continue to do so – to master the protocol. Considering the Wilson’s light-as-a-dust-mite’s-fart single-action trigger, I also checked my go-pedal discipline under stress with force-on-force training.
I feel confident that I could wield my Wilson Combat X-Tac with reasonable aplomb if and when push comes to shove. That said, a gun’s a gun and I’m no ballistic or firearm snob. Not to mention the fact that a gun isn’t the most important part of a gunfight. Still, the 1911 is far from obsolete. You may disagree, but what bad guy’s gonna argue the point at the point of a gun?
3. 1911’s are cool
This is Nick’s big deal. He reckons there’s nothing cooler than a 1911, handgun-wise. I agree. The pistol’s design is drop-dead sexy (literally). The ancient pistol — delivered unto us by John Moses Browning – has a direct and illustrious bloodline. But it’s way more than that.
Like the Smith & Wesson 4″ 686, my choice for open carry, or a well-sorted lever gun, my choice for hunting, the 1911, my choice for self-defense, isn’t a gun. The 1911 is quintessential gun. It has “the essence of a thing in its purest and most concentrated form.” Ranging further afield for a suitable comparison, the 1911 is like a Steinway piano, an Oreo cookie, a Patek Phillipe Calatrava or a Land Rover Range Rover. Instantly recognizable. Completely unforgettable. Amendable to only the slightest change or evolution.
One last thing: those of you who scoff at the idea of paying $3250 for a gun — any gun — I understand completely. No one needs a gun that costs that much. Guns that cost a fraction of the price can do the exact same job (and some even look as good). Think of what else you could buy for three grand in the hand! But if I gave you a Wilson, Cabot or similar 1911 to shoot and carry for a week, I bet you’d want to keep it. And if you kept it you’d want to carry it. Wouldn’t you?