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So we’ve reached the half-way point in my 30 day odyssey in carrying a firearm concealed on my person. And I think it’s a good a time as any to take stock in what I’ve learned. You know the bit (that I’ve cited before) about the different speeches: the speech you plan to give, the one you write, the one you deliver, the one you think you deliver, and the one the audience actually heard? Well my experiences with conceal carry are a lot like that. Let me explain…

I had all sorts of pre-conceived notions about conceal carry before I began. Most of these were based on theoretical or anecdotal information (much of it inaccurate), plus my own (very) limited experience carrying my 5″, steel-framed Springfield Loaded. In retrospect, that’s kind of like saying “Even though I’ve never played golf, I know I’m good at it, because I played baseball.” Hmm…let’s see…I can hit a three inch ball, traveling near 100 MPH at me on a roughly horizontal plane, three to four feet off the ground with a wooden bat. That MUST qualify me to hit a one inch ball off a tee an inch above the ground with a flexible steel-shaft club with a wooden head. Mmmm…I’m thinkin’ NOT. Carrying a 44 oz. steel-frame gun with a 5″ barrel compared to this Kimber Pro Crimson Carry II at an amazingly svelte 28 oz. is like trying to conceal Shamu and get him out of Sea World, compared to shoplifting a bag of goldfish. (Not that I would ever shoplift or steal, but you get my drift.)

So what have I learned? The gun I carry makes a huge difference if not just can I carry, but if I carry. The holster choice/style is probably the second-most important factor. And the mechanics of carrying – getting in and out of a car, how to leave your weapon secured in your car, that sort of thing – proved to be something that takes a lot more thought, not to mention practice, than I’d anticipated.

But I guess the biggest surprise to me was that I’ve opened my mind to the idea that there just might not be ONE gun that I need for concealment. Now before anybody goes “I told you so,” or “See, 1911s are NOT all that and a side of fries,” I’ve got to be honest. I was absolutely, positively right about what kind of carry gun I presumed the Kimber to be. Lemme spell it out: The Kimber Pro Crimson Carry II is absolutely the best choice I can think of in a carry gun, assuming you’re looking for stopping power, reliability, flexibility, and quality. That clear enough for you? But fifteen days into my test, I’ve realized something. And that something is that my carry plans are, at least in some part being dictated by my gun. Which is something I didn’t anticipate.

Here’s the deal. I based my selection of the Kimber on a number of factors:

  • I wanted to chamber the .45 ACP cartridge. In all my research, I feel strongly that it’s the most effective handgun caliber to stop a bad guy with the fewest number of rounds.
  • 1911’s feel very comfortable in my hand. I’m willing to trade fewer rounds in a single-stack 1911 for the added capacity of a Glock or XD, because of how comfortable I am with the 1911-style grip.
  • I wanted a 4″ barrel, because that strikes me as the longest barrel length I can comfortably conceal. The longer the barrel, the more accurate the gun. A 5″ is about an inch too long to sit with a gun on my hip. Your results may vary.
  • I wanted laser grips, so I don’t have to worry about sight picture in an emergency situation.

Given my criteria, the Kimber fit it the best. Of course, one factor I didn’t think of is “do I really just need/want a single, appropriate for all-occasions carry gun?” And the surprising result of my test has been…”maybe not.”

Here’s the thing. In the Winter months, conceal carry is a lot easier. Sweatshirts. Sweaters. Coats. Hoodies. They all give you a concealment advantage over, say, an Izod shirt and a  pair of khaki shorts. But even in Winter, what if it’s warm? What if you need to take off your coat?

What I’ve figured out is that everything I cited above is, to put it in math terms, a variable and not a constant. For instance, ask yourself the question, If the bulk and weight of even a 28 oz., 4″ barrel 1911 would prevent you from carrying/discourage you from carrying, would it be better to have a smaller-caliber weapon that can be (more) easily concealed than no weapon at all?

Increasingly, I think the answer to this question is ‘yes.’ I think that, for certain situations, having a smaller, lighter, easy-to-stick-in-your-pocket gun (say in .40 cal or .380) is going to be somewhere between an “acceptable compromise” and “better than nothing” solution to my conceal carry plans. Of course, I have no such weapon at this time (and with Christmas coming, this divorced dad has NO discretionary income to put towards a gun purchase). So RF, we may be looking at a sequel to this series. Heh. And I can see a potential “next question” coming up, once I do have access to a second gun, namely, Will having a smaller, easier-to-conceal gun lull me into carrying it, more often than my dream 1911 gun?

Only time will tell.

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  1. Take a look at the Ruger LCR family (or comparable S&W Airweight revolver). At 13.5 oz, they weight less than half of your Kimber and less than a third of your full frame 1911. Shooting .38 Special +P or .357 Magnum ammo, you won’t miss the .45 ACP stopping power. Crimson Trace Laser Grips are also available and it has an inherently safe DAO trigger.

    The down side, of course, is that you won’t win any marksmanship contests and you sacrifice magazine capacity.

    But the pros outweigh (note the irony) the cons: you’ll have it when you need it.

  2. 9mm single stack with good 115 gr personal defense ammo. a large percentage of assults will end as soon as they see you are armed. the only self defense situation I have personal knowlege of involved a 6′ 4″ drug addict who brok in to steal a friends pain med after my friend had a car accident. one shot point blank with a 25 acp ended the threat.

  3. For several years I carried a full-sized Kimber 1911 in a fanny pack. Yes, it’s a fraction of a second slower in drawing than a hip holster, but it’s easy to conceal, no one seems to pay any attention to it, and I could draw just as easily sitting as standing. However, the 7+1 capacity bothered me. If I were to be attacked by more than one attacker, I might find myself on the short end of the ammunition supply. I bought a Para NightHawk. Shorter barrel, but 10+1 in the gun ( and a spare mag, of course), I felt more comfortable. I’d really rather have the longer barrel, but at the ranges I’m likely to need a gun, I don’t think the difference is critical. The extra ammo is more important. That’s my take on it.

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