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By Nicholas Alexander

All of us know the common phrase to ask when trying to process new information, who, what, when, where, why and how. I have always subconsciously applied this to firearms, but only recently began to understand why it is so important to do. First let me start with my background, I grew up in a farming community and was introduced to firearms at a very young age. I did not buy my first handgun until I was 21 and at that time I was only considering concealed carry. Today I am 26 years old, a firearms instructor and a strong advocate of carrying a firearm all the time . . .

I am going to break this article up into three sections, Open carry, Conceal carry, and deep concealment. In each part I will subtly address the what when where why and how of that carry position.

PART 1 Open Carry: I grew up hunting hiking and fishing in the woods with my father, I remember before many trips he would pull out his old .44 cap and ball revolver, load up 5 cylinders, pack it away in its holster and at the end of a trip he would calmly “try” to fire those rounds before leaving the woods. I say “try” because I have never seen that gun fire 1 single round EVER. But it was the carrying of the gun that always stuck with me.

Any time I am in the woods I open carry a Taurus 1911 .45 ACP full size. Because in the event of possible large mammal aggression, I want my draw stroke to be smooth and fast. I don’t want my clothing to be a hindrance. I carry a 1911 because I am comfortable with the weapon and it is a large enough caliber in my book to stop a threat. During the summer months I use a Galco High Rise holster and during winter months I use a “tacticool” thigh rig. Practice with any carry position is critical. I always practice draw strokes with my holsters using an empty firearm, especially when switching from the galco to the thigh rig.

PART 2 Conceal Carry: You know that 1911 I just talked about? That was my first handgun. I remember how nervous I was the first time I conceal carried that gun. Yes I was that guy, the inexperienced greenhorn, who thought he owned the world.

Needless to say, through experience and training I have learned a full size 1911, although a handgun, is one that is heavy and difficult to conceal. When I am traveling long distance, or working around my house, I now carry a SIG SAUER P220 Carry with night sights. The P220 Carry is smaller and lighter, but still gives me the .45 ACP round I love. The night sights are a great addition to my concealment gun, and work great even in low light. Once again, I carry in a Galco High Rise. It worked for my 1911 and it works even better for my P220.

PART 3 Deep Concealment: How many of you have ever gone to a nice restaurant with your family? How many of you have gone to a crowded mall? Most likely we have all been in those places, people running about, standing in close quarters while in the checkout line. Waitresses bumping your table hurrying to serve meals. These places are not where you want to lean over and have that soccer mom with 3 kids see your 1911 print through your T shirt (trust me). After just such an experience, I trotted off to my local gun store to make a very serious change in my choice of weapons.

When I am planning…belay that. When my beautiful wife is planning a day of shopping, kids screaming and eating out, I choose to carry a Taurus 9mm Slim. Yes my beloved .45 sits in the safe while I trot off into the halls of capitalism with a 9mm on my hip.

I carry my Taurus Slim inside the waistband in a leather holster from The Holster Store. I use this method of deep concealment only in crowded places to avoid the possibility of shopper panic. The 9mm still gives me a major caliber to use in the event I need to let lead fly, but is small enough I can conceal it under a long T-shirt with no issues.

I believe that if you carry everywhere and all the time like I do, you won’t just have one gun. It is very likely you will need different platforms the way I do. These are some of my experiences, and these are methods that work for me. Stay safe and carry a gun.

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  1. At only 26, you should have a long firearms instructor lifetime ahead of you. I’m glad you’re out there and doing this.

    • Thanks William, I worked extremely hard to become an instructor, and I am glad I did because I really enjoy it.

  2. I believe that if you carry everywhere and all the time like I do, you won’t just have one gun.

    Ditto. I never knew a carpenter or a mechanic who only had one size of chisel or wrench in his toolbox.

  3. Thanks for your thoughts, Nick! What kind of thigh holster do you use? I’m contemplating something like that for exactly the same purpose of toting an “outdoors gun.” I’m leaning towards a thigh rig as I imagine it would come nowhere close to getting in the way of a backpack.

    • Thank you all for the great comments.
      MN Matt, I tried some different holsters, the only two I would recomened to anyone is the blackhawk thigh holster, and the safariland rig. the rest are junk (personal opinon). I carry in the safariland because I like the rolling retention vs the push button on the blackhawk.

  4. Good advice on multiple pistols. You working for the capitalist firearms industry like the NRA? (joke)

    Ever since the Army I have not been a big fan of full-size 1911s. Always seemed like way too much metal and not enough gun. JMHO.

    For my EDC I use a 9mm Ruger SR9c IWB. In the winter I use the standard capacity 17 round mag, but with the shorter (10 round) mag this is a very easy to conceal pistol in almost all situations and weather, although I live in the northwest and haven’t tried CCW in Texas. On those occasions, as you mentioned, when deep concealment night be politic, I carry an S&W Airweight .38 +P in a Ramora holster. This pistol in this arrangement is a little slow to draw, BUT, it is faster than the one you leave in the safe at home.

    Open Carry is a problem here even though it is entirely legal. Being an urban area (Tacoma/Seattle) the po-po like to spend time finding out why you think you need that pistol hangin out there in front of God and everybody. If we ever get past that hurdle I will carry my S&W 686 .357 Magnum and 2 speed loaders. If.

  5. I chose a Ruger SP101 .357 with a three-inch barrel thinking it could be my hiking gun, conceal gun, bedside gun, everything.

    Well, wasn’t more than a year before I picked up a compact little 45 for general conceal carry. All the plans of mice and men…

    • Curious, isn’t it? First choice for me, if it has to be “one handgun” (reality is ‘no handgun’… sigh) I’d go Glock. However, even though I’m not a 1911 fanboy (it’s excellent, but life’s moved on) I have USAian friends who swear by compact 1911s for CCW and having had my hands on a couple of examples, I can see the appeal.

      Having both been to a big Merchants of Death arms fair (so at least got to admire and handle lots of very nice firearms) and over in the US recently, I ended up musing to myself that the 1911 has a lot in common with something like a classic Dodge Charger. Yes, it’s old, there are many new technologies that have come out since then, newer designs are more refined, it’s maybe not the best or most practical option for a daily commute… and yet when you see and hear that big V8 muscle car drive past, it hits a visceral “want one of those!” trigger right in the hindbrain, just as picking up a good 1911 leaves you curiously reluctant to put it back down.

      • A 1911 still has one thing that most modern pistols don’t have. A smooth single stage short reset trigger. There isn’t a 45 ACP out there that can match it out of the box. I also think the sights are better attuned to the eye but that might just be me. I find that the rounded edges direct you eyes right down the barrel. That’s why I like the nice rounded shape of the M-9 and Px4 series.

        • “A 1911 still has one thing that most modern pistols don’t have. A smooth single stage short reset trigger.”

          I had my Springfield 1911-A1 in my back pocket when I read this. The trigger pull is hard, I have yet to fire enough rounds through it to smooth it out. However the trigger movement to fire/reset and fire is about 1/8 inch.

        • thx tdi. i regret my first choice for primary: glock in 40S&W a bit as its snappy and does not fit my hand as well as the 1911. It does have a predictable reset and with practice am getting useable groups. I’m also reconsidering my original priority for one caliber one maker in favor of the form factor of the Nano in 9 VS the G23 which doesnt lend itself to pocket carry and is thick enough to be uncomfortable iwb on my shape. Just my 2 cents.

    • have the 3″ barrel vers. of Ruger GP 100 .357, great weapon but still find myself dropping my Ruger LRC .38 in my pocket around the house, traveling back and forth from country property to house. Thinking about trading in .38 LCR for .357 LCR for more flexabily in caliber.
      For target practice Ruger SR .22 pistol, actually most accurate shooting gun I have, can consistantly land 5 head shots, 5 center mass shots, minght become back up carry.

  6. I carry a 1911 Colt Defendermost of the time, but I do revert to a Smith and Wesson 45 cal dompact for times when I might piss off the pope so to speak. I really wonder why the hell that soccer mom is not packing herself .. with all those kids to protect, why does she chose to let the cop protect them when he is only 15 to 20 minutes aeay ,, lady, if a shooter cuts loose with an ar or an equivalent firearm, I want to stop him dead in his little tracks, NOT having to wait for the cop to get there. What the F**k is wrong with these soccer moms? THEY are the ones being stuffed into the coroners wagon, not me.
    Robert Seddon
    Mineral, Va.

    • Until enough people carry to actually deter bad guys bent on racking up the record I am glad that there are those all too willing victims out there to absorb bullets so I can get to cover or out. Sounds callous but if they want to stick their head in the sand that is not my problem. If someone survives because of my actions on my way to safety then it will make me feel better but I am not carrying to directly protect others. That is a job for mall security or the cops.

  7. Concealment is all about clothing. If you carry you have to dress accordingly. What makes the 1911 a problem is it’s length not width. Width wise it prints less than any compact Glock. The solution I use to hide a full sized gun is a tall-size shirt which gives you the extra length to always keep the gun concealed. If I have to tuck the shirt in I wear a jacket and carry a Nano, Your choice may very. Concealment is really pretty simple especially since most people walk around in condition white and wouldn’t notice you open carrying.

    Another factor are the state laws that you operate under. For example until recently in Texas if your piece even printed you get cited for open carrying or even brandishing. If your state has open carry so what if someone sees a flash of your gun or it prints.

    • Thank GOD we fixed that. I’m 5’6 and 130lbs, I can’t carry a paperclip w\o it seeming obvious.
      Then again, I am my harshest critic

      • Deluth Trading makes a long tail shirt in tall sizes. Thats 2 longs on one shirt. Also great for those with T Rex arms cause in the regulars only the bottom is longer not the sleeves.

    • Best statement my CCW instructor made, which I’ve repeated countless times over the years… “Carrying concealed is not just a lifestyle change, it’s a wardrobe change.”

  8. Some useful tips and points to consider for someone new to concealed carry, I suppose, but I didn’t really catch the “why?” of concealed carry or of firearms in general. Without fully answering that question, then the remaining W’s may become moot as a non-gunnie never connects, never relates, and never becomes a gun newbie.

  9. While I own multiple handguns that are amenable to concealed carry, I only carry one…. 100% of the time. I’ve got my system down. Regardless of how I dress (from casual shorts or jeans and t-shirt to business dress slacks and tucked in shirt), I carry my Glock 27. It’s never been spotted by anyone in any situation, including very close quarters.

    I also carry a spare G27 mag, a 2.5-oz Fox Labs PS, a SAK, and a single-cell (CR123) light… completely concealed. I also clip one of my Spydercos in my pocket. The clip is not “concealed,” though. I’m an “average” sized guy. No additional cover garments, as I live in sunny Florida.

  10. Good article Nick. You validate my faith in the next generation of self-defenders. A Glock 19 is my EDC, but when I taught college and could have been fired for going armed, a Taurus Slim 9mm on my ankle with a spare mag on the other ankle worked quite well.

  11. I carried a Glock 30 compact .45 ACP for over 10 years concealed in IWB holster all year around as my primary carry gun; even in T-shirt and jeans, no one knew I was carrying concealed unless I told them. Then I carried a 2 full sized 13 round mag in my pocket.

    Now I OC, which I prefer.

  12. I have carried a Iver Johnson TP22 in a modified billfold in back pocket for 30 + years. I’ve had to replace the billfold a few times, and now that the Iver is showing it wear, I replace it with Ruger LCP.

      • I’m not sure if it’s ignorance or denial that drives decisions to place your life and the lives of others in the hands of substandard equipment.

        • Yes sir, many would agree with you that a 1911 is outdated, or that taurus is a substandard company.
          please if you ever have the oportunity to give advice to a novice, help them understand that it is not price that matters, it is a mind set and dedication. the gun you have with you in the time of need is the only one that matters. Train with what you have.

  13. Interestingly enough, most of my diehard 1911 friends are usually carrying a smaller gun (slim 9’s, pocket 380’s, and revolvers), or nothing at all.

  14. Great article and good luck to the author in his career. More thanks to the commenters on what works as thats the practical and useful gun truth I come here for too. I expect there are others from the ranks of former non-gun owners some of whom did not grow up with guns and now are at a place in life where they are reconsidering what they learned in school or heard from liberal friends and realize that is no longer “true”. So tyanks Nick for being both a good example as a shooter and sharing this space with this new instructor.

  15. ps Nick thru training w ipda instructor and navy seal trainer and some reading have settled on same holsters. the thigh rig is handy because it gets the holster out of the way of backpack hip pads but starts to rub leg sore after a couple miles. For longer hike where slower access Id rather stow in a pck pocket but that becomes a concealed carry violation. CA laws…

  16. coming up on 19 years now carrying my Glock 23. Started with fanny pack. when it “died” didn’t replace it. Hawaiian shirts, leather vest, cotton vest and sports jackets are my normal attire choices today. Found I like the sports jacket for cooler weather. Leather vest is great with the western motif here in the west. Hots days the Hawaiian shirts set is great.

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