Warren Buffet is well-known for his advice to “invest in what you know.” A similar philosophy led to my choice in a carry gun — I carry what I know . . .
My first gun was a Beretta 92FS. I bought it for two simple reasons. The first was because I liked the virtual version of that firearm in Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas, and I wanted to see if I was any good with a real one. The second was because I didn’t really get the whole Second Amendment thing. For me that was a good reason to exercise my rights: because I could. To see what I could learn from the experience.
As a gun noob I really wasn’t comfortable with the idea of carry. Shooting at a range or plinking in the desert was one thing, but toting around a hidden gun? That was scary. Maybe even a little creepy. After all, I didn’t grow up around guns–I found my own way to them. I had never felt unsafe without one. The idea of walking around with a loaded handgun was profoundly unsettling and seemed completely unnecessary.
What I hadn’t yet realized was that my awesome new Beretta had made me a Gun Owner. Like it or not, I had thrown myself into a world of politics I knew next to nothing about, and I had unintentionally chosen a side. As that fact dawned on me I felt the weight of the wise words of Spiderman’s Uncle Ben: “with great power comes great responsibility.” I realized the Second Amendment wasn’t written just so I could punch holes in paper. So, I set out to become more proficient with my firearms. I practiced shooting, and I became familiar with gun laws.
In late 2012 I was at The Crossroads of the West Gun Show in Phoenix when my carry gun found me. I wasn’t exactly looking for a carry gun, but among the many tables I discovered a brand new PX4 Storm Compact in .40 at just over four bills. Beretta was running a rebate at the time that dropped that price by another $50. I had been flirting recently with the idea of a full-size Storm in .45, but I couldn’t pass up the smaller Beretta at that price.
I didn’t really want a .40, but then again I didn’t have anything in .40. I liked the rotating bolt idea, and figured that might tame some of the “snappiness” that .40S&W is known for. What really sealed the deal was the fact that the Storm had the same safety and DA/SA action as my 92. It’s the setup I knew best, and the combination of safety and DA pull made me feel better about the idea of carrying the PX4.
I resolved to get my concealed carry permit. I found a local gun shop that offered a discount on a concealed carry course for anyone attending their basic pistols course. My wife had just purchased her first gun at the same show, so the basic course seemed like a perfect thing to do as a couple. It was. And despite having several years of gun ownership under my belt by that time I learned a few things.
Then Sandy Hook happened. The ensuing panic meant that I couldn’t get into a concealed carry course, because they were all either canceled or hopelessly overbooked. Somewhere along the way I decided I was better off skipping the permit and supporting constitutional carry by exercising it.
Meanwhile, my personal quest to “do something” led me to TTAG, and my firearms self-education really took off. I learned how lame the Uncle Mike’s holsters I had purchased were, so I picked up a most excellent leather and Kydex rig by SHTF Gear (and a couple stout belts) to replace them. I bought a bunch of extra magazines. Then one day I did a dry-run, carrying my empty Beretta concealed through Wal-Mart to get over the jitters and self-consciousness of first-time carry. Over time I’ve settled into carrying and now it feels natural.
I’ve worn the SHTF Gear holster through a couple summers, and I’m still amazed that even in 115 degrees it is surprisingly comfortable. I also snagged the nifty little Beretta-branded pistol rug for those times I temporarily disarm for our Force-of-Law “No Guns” signs. I carry HPR Hyperclean ammo because, well, it’s locally made and it looks good. Until relatively recently I’ve seen little information on ballistics performance of defense rounds in .40 caliber. ShootingTheBull liked the HPR’s in .380. Seems legit?
I no longer think twice about carrying one-in-the-pipe, and thanks to trigger discipline the Beretta’s manual safety seems a bit superfluous these days. I could graduate to a new carry gun, but I won’t. Not yet. I’m still happy carrying what I know.
(See the rest of the posts in this series here. Send your What I Carry and Why submissions with a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org with WICAW in the subject line.)