I carry several different guns. Each has a purpose, of course, and every gun has benefits and limitations. My perspective of use has been influenced by qualifying four times a year on a concealed carry course which involves drawing and shooting from concealment or low ready with time limits of 1.5 to 3 seconds. Head shots are required from 3-7 yards, and center mass shots are required from 7-15 yards. As you can see from the photos . . .
the “head box” is from the bottom of the nose to the top and outside edges of the eyebrows. This area is approximately 3″ tall by 5″ wide. The course requires tactical reloads and a bit of “getting of the X movement.” It’s similar to a police qualification, but a bit more rigorous – not SEAL stuff, but good practice. This puts me into the “carry the biggest gun with as man rounds as you can manage” camp.
The other main thrust for me is ammo selection. Of course the sight of a handgun alone can end many violent encounters, but I’ve already encountered a fair amount of “Murphy’s Law” in my life. If I have to shoot, I want to ignite the finest ammo I can stuff into a magazine. I’ve been in dozens of instances in my life where diplomacy has failed. Much has been said about avoiding stupid people in stupid places. That’s not necessarily possible. While I don’t look for trouble off duty, neither did anyone at Sandy Hook Elementary School or the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora. When trouble finds me I’ve got a plan much better than hiding under a desk.
I simply wouldn’t feel confident in my firearm unless it can sling a duty-grade JHP with enough reliability to send 200 rounds downrange without an issue. And when those rounds hit, I want to hit hard and have the ability to penetrate light intermediate barriers. Maybe I’m just a pessimist, but I could very well imagine my bad guy being behind a car door, interior wall, or just hopped up on drugs. I certainly don’t want to encounter multiple bad guys, especially not without a long gun, but life just doesn’t come with a whole lot of guarantees (other than death, taxes, and traffic stopping in LA for no discernible reason).
Since I have an inquisitive toddler and home carry, concealment is the name of the game. I also clean my guns regularly and even dust them off after every couple of days of carry. If I need ’em, I need them to work. More ammo is definitely better than less, so a spare mag is a good thing. I like a 24 round minimum (and I vehemently oppose reduced capacity magazine laws).
The last issue for me is the sport seats in my car, an Infiniti G37S with a bunch of miles. Anything larger than my GLOCK 27 bangs into the bolsters, but I still don’t limit myself to the G27 size. Carrying larger guns has ripped a small hole on the right side of the seat. Black marks are visible too. Hey, stuff breaks and wears out. The wife’s SUV or my motorcycle have more room, so I customize my carry to my day. If my day will take me into shady neighborhoods I carry heavier and increase my ammo load out.
Gun #1 – GLOCK 27 Gen 3 with night sights and Glock+ mag extension
This is the gun I carry the most. It’s extremely reliable, lightweight, easy to conceal, and has decent accuracy. It’s loaded with 10+1 rounds of Winchester Ranger RA40T 180 grain JHPs that average 976 FPS for 380 FPE. That’s about double the energy and capacity of a .380 mouse gun. These loads have a big hollowpoint cavity and shoot very close to point of aim out to 25 yards or so. I carry a 13-round GLOCK 23 mag reload unless wardrobe space is tight, and the gun itself sits in a leather snap-retention holster OWB at the 4 O’ clock position.
At first I was concerned that this gun wouldn’t be reliable with the changes. I couldn’t cycle target 9mm ammo with a .40 cal weight (16 lb.) recoil spring. After hundreds of rounds and a few boxes of various 9mm +P, this gun easily meets the 200 rounds without an issue standard. And it works with 33-round extended mags. Although the gun has factory night sights, I added the Streamlight TLR-1. Mine’s loaded with 15+1 rounds of Federal HST 124 grain +P. The gun is carried in an Ares Armor Kydex holster with an FBI cant.
Gun #3 – GLOCK 35 Gen 4 with Lone Wolf 9mm conversion barrel and stainless steel recoil spring / guide rod upgrade, Streamlight TLR-1
After the aforementioned GLOCK 23 to GLOCK “19” project worked out so well, I figured I’d try it with a different gun. The 9mm is a fun caliber to shoot. Sometimes I think someone must be stealing my ammo because I can go to the range with a couple hundred rounds only to have it disappear into a pile of steaming hot brass. It’s loaded 17+1 with the aforementioned HST’s. Underwood 124 grain Hornady XTP +P will shoot an average of 1320 FPS for 480 FPE.
Gun #4 – Smith 340 PD
Shooting this gun with full-power .357 ammo is like shaking hands with an electrical fire. The short barrel and sight radius combined with the painful recoil make shooting this gun at 15 yards challenging. As a belly gun, it’s entirely adequate, and has more power and accuracy than any gun locked up at home. I can jog with this gun, although I don’t usually carry when I’m running. My current load is the Buffalo Bore 158 grain JHP.
Gun #5 – SIG 226 TACOPS 9mm with Streamlight TLR-1
I don’t carry this gun very often since the mags are so long, but 20 rounds of 9mm is great to have. This gun is reliable and a ton of fun to shoot. I really like the bright green tritium/fiber optic front sight, although I could see it breaking do to a design that may be fragile. The SRT trigger is pretty nice, although I’m still adjusting from the GLOCK trigger reset. The 226 is accurate and feels good in the hand. If I could choose my duty gun, this would be it.
Gun #6 – Smith 4006 Gen 3 (?)
Did you misplace your boat anchor? If so, the Smith 4006 with a full mag might work in a pinch. It’s a reliable gun that isn’t terribly accurate or comfortable to carry. It also reminds me of work, which I really don’t need when I’m not working.
Gun #7 – GLOCK 23 Gen 4
Like the 27, but bigger.
Gun #8 – GLOCK 35 Gen 3
This gun is currently on leave since the mag springs have worn out, causing the last round in the mag to occasionally hang up on the feed ramp. The Gen 4 G35 mags work well, but I don’t have a perfect 200 / 200 with Ranger JHPs since the fix, so the gun is locked away.
(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.)