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For many gun owners, obtaining their concealed weapons permit is a significant personal rite of passage. And it can be a monumental achievement or just a check in the box depending on the state you live in. Still, getting that permit is, for many people, arguably the easy part. Finding the right gun and method of concealment is where the real challenge begins . . .

The perfect concealed carry weapon would have a large capacity of relatively powerful rounds that would produce only a slight flip of the muzzle yet would be small and light enough to carry in almost any attire. Reality and physics unfortunately tend to rear their ugly heads at this point and any concealable weapon becomes of study in compromises.

Large capacity handguns tend to be, by their nature, somewhat less concealable than their smaller brethren. Guns capable of absorbing the kick of powerful ammunition tend to be heavier that what is likely comfortable to schlep around all day, particularly if you live in a hot weather climate and wear less clothing than is ideal for concealment. For many folks, these tradeoffs have been responsible for the phenomenal rise in the sales of .380s and sub-compact 9mm pistols.

I, too, found myself on this journey shortly after obtaining my concealed weapons permit.  My guns at the time were full-sized 9mm and .40 pistols that had plenty of ammo capacity, but pretty much sucked at the whole concealability thing. My next pistol, a 1911 with 5″ barrel, while fun to shoot, wasn’t much help either. At the time, I was of the opinion that mouse guns weren’t for me, either. So as small as the .380 pistols were, they were out of contention.

My solution, which I thought brilliant at the time, was to purchase a Ruger LC9. It seemed to be the ideal compromise – small, yet still capable of propelling 9mm rounds down range. Granted, it didn’t have a huge magazine capacity but with seven rounds in the magazine plus the option of one more in the chamber, it would probably meet my needs for most DGU incidents that I would be likely to encounter.

In retrospect, I liken the Ruger to the first time that you meet someone you have the hots for. That person looks really attractive, sounds reasonably intelligent, and seems like someone you wouldn’t mind spending some serious time with. But then you start dating and all the person’s annoying little habits start to make themselves known.

In the case of the Ruger, the annoyances became clear shortly after my first trip to the range. To say that the LC9 is not a fun gun to shoot would be like saying folks at the Brady campaign have a mild dislike for firearms. I liken it to lighting a small firecracker then holding it tightly in your hand. The Double Action Only (DAO) trigger pull was long and seemed inconsistent from shot to shot. These issues might have been forgivable if not for the magazine disconnect safety.

The mag disconnect safety is clearly the creation of someone who hates guns, gun owners, and anyone who has anything to do with guns. It assumes that all gun owners are idiots who, after ejecting their magazine, don’t have the sense to check that they’ve cleared their chamber. I liken it to including an ignition kill switch in your car wired to the seat belts – unbuckle and the engine turns off.

The problem with a magazine disconnect safety is that if the magazine is out, the gun won’t fire, even with a round in the chamber. In a defensive situation, you might be pulling this pocket pistol from – wait for it – your pocket, or maybe a bag and the possibility exists that the magazine release catch gets bumped and as you pull out your gun, the magazine drops to the floor. At that point, I hope you have a hell of an arm as the only use the gun is to you is as a projectile unless you have a spare mag ready to slam into the gun.

So . . . to make a long story just a little bit longer, my infatuation with the LC9 lasted about a month before I decided to sell the gun and look elsewhere. Around that time, I had just started taking classes at the Sig Sauer Academy and was just starting to familiarize myself with the P239.

The P239 is available in 9mm, .357Sig, and .40. Magazine size is eight rounds for a 9 mm and seven for the the other two. The overall dimensions of the gun are only slightly larger than the LC9, but the weight – nearly 2 pounds – means that the gun can handle the recoil forces of the more powerful rounds with ease.

The concealed carry problem, however, reared its ugly head as I tried to come up with a comfortable way to tote the heater. I tried a couple of the cheaper IWB holsters including DeSantis and Galco, but they really didn’t do the job. Ultimately, I purchased a Galco shoulder holster which works pretty well, but it of course assumes that I would always have a jacket on which meant that it’s not the perfect carry solution for all situations – not that such a thing really exists.

My next stop was the Sig Sauer P238. Going against my earlier feelings, I went ahead and settled on the .380 mouse gun. It’s relatively light, fits my pocket pretty well and even if I use the compact OWB holster that Sig provides with it, the gun is still easy to conceal.  While it came with a single six-round magazine, I went ahead and purchased a couple of seven round mags which added a bit to the height, but also gives me room for an extra finger on the grip.

Shooting the P238 is a dream compared to the LC9. I found that I could comfortably shoot 100+ rounds without needing to soak my hand in ice water afterward. And inside of 30 feet, the gun is phenomenally accurate.

I really like the gun, but two things remained at the back of my mind. First, the P238 is a mini 1911 style pistol meaning it’s SAO with a manual safety. Unlike my SA/DA P238, I would have to have the presence of mind to flip off the safety as I drew it, which, being different than most of the other guns I own, meant that I would need to dedicate some serious training time to teach my muscles the correct process to draw and ready the gun. The second and more insidious issue that I had with it was the the gnawing feeling that a .380 is simply not enough gun should I found myself in a DGU situation.

Much ink has been spilled on the pros and cons of the .380 and the fact remains that even with the newer cartridges available for that caliber, a .380 simply does not have the stopping power of a larger, more powerful round. Center mass hits with other calibers that have the potential to stop an assailant might not be effective with a .380. You really need to get a more precise hit – preferably a head shot – if you want to be assured of putting a bad guy down.

Add to this the fact that seven rounds is rather limited if you’re facing multiple bad guys and the result is that while a .380 is better than no gun, it really doesn’t provide the same peace of mind that a larger caliber weapon does. I still like my P238 but I was left wondering if there’s a better option.

Reading some posts here on TTAG led me to the Crossbreed Supertuck holster.  I promptly ordered one for my P239 and have been generally pleased with the results.  More testing is still required before I can comfortably say that I have found my Grail, but things look promising.

Sig Sauer, of course, decided to turn my world upside down with the announcement of the P938 at the 2012 SHOT Show. This gun is a slightly larger version of the P238, but one that packs the punch of the larger 9mm round. I have not yet gotten a chance to shoot it and believe me, after the Ruger I’m going to try before I buy. But if the feel and performance is similar to the P238, I might be putting the P239 on the shelf in favor of this new option.

My quest is not yet over, but hopefully I am getting close to the end.

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    • Full sized 1911 = NOT EASILY CONCEALABLE OR COMFORTABLY TOTABLE. “My guns at the time were full-sized 9mm and .40 pistols that had plenty of ammo capacity, but pretty much sucked at the whole concealability thing. My next pistol, a 1911 with 5″ barrel, while fun to shoot, wasn’t much help either. ” Why chime in with your “opinion” on your favorite CCW that is completely opposed to the nature of the article? The author is talking about a truly small, concealable option. Glad you like your 1911 but it’s far from being considered truly concealable by the masses, even with a supertuck.

      • Yeah, see, I was disagreeing with the author’s assertion. We’re allowed to do that here. Some of us even do it without resorting to the caps-lock key. My 5’4″, 105 lb wife can conceal a full-size 1911, and still look hot. If she can do it, anyone can.

        • We have similar taste in women, but mine’s been carrying the Glock 19 more these days when she goes into town. Around the property she still carries a .45 or .44 though. We have big critters.

          Though mine’s a little more portly at 5′ 5″ and 117 lbs, but she’s working on it….

        • My thoughts exactly. Is she concealing that thing in a parka?

          I’m 5’9 and around 170, usually conceal a snubby .357 or Glock 27, and don’t look hot in either…

        • We’re talking CCW, where 99.9% of people are interested in a micro to sub-compact option. FLAME DELETED

        • Proof to back that claim?

          A lot of people conceal med. to full size guns and if it is only 0.1% then I must personally know all of them. Yes a majority may prefer micros and sub-compacts but it is definitely not 99.9%.

        • Proof? This article…the advent, sales and promotion of more and more micro’s on the market from Ruger to sig, to Rohrbaugh to Heizer, etc. Everyone in my circle (including law enforcement friends) wants max firepower but no one wants to carry a full sized pistol most of the time. One cop I know carries a Ruger 380 off duty, another a Rohrbaugh. My J frame serves me well with +p until I find the right micro 9mm.

      • Actually, because of its slim frame, a full-size 1911 is very easy to conceal with the right holster/belt combination. I find it easier to conceal than many of my other compact weapons.

        That being said, my S&W M&P45c is just about the perfect carry weapon for me.

        • I carry a full sized 1911 in a “kholster” 75% of the time. It might take some getting used to, but its not very hard (im a 31 inch waist). the rest of my CCWing is with a Ruger LCR when the situation requires the lighter gun.

          the “holy grail” of CCW guns = 2-3 different options to choose from based on the situation.

        • “the “holy grail” of CCW guns = 2-3 different options to choose from based on the situation.”

          Exactly, and sometimes it a combination of them.

        • “The world’s only crew-served pistol.”

          Truth be told, I’ve never handled or fired a Mk23, but I’d sure love the chance. Retail price is a bit steep for me, though.

        • Stop by one of the special warfare unit armories that got stuck with the MK23. They have lots of them in pristine condition……

        • I could, but then I’d end up getting shot for trying to get a five-finger discount on a USP Tactical.

    • All of the handguns with a magazine safety hold the magizine very tightly. Now many of you will scoff and say I am stupid, but I like to pop the magazine out a 1/4 inch. It won’t fire, I have one in the pipe, all that is needed is to push the full mag home, and you are ready to fire. I do not CCW, but it is handy in the house.

      My wife figured this one out a looooong time ago

  1. I have yet to find a complaint with a .45ACP G36 as a carry pistol. It’s very light, snag free, extremely reliable, 6 + 1, accurate, and absorbs recoil remarkably well. It lacks the unnecessary ‘rail’ of the the XDs and has a more natural thumb-groove shape. It’s dimensions are almost identical to the Walther PPK/S, but it is much lighter at 20 oz. It slips into the pocket of suit slacks or can ride in any decent IWB holster. I acquired a Kahr, a Walther, but the trigger, form, and weight of the G36 won out over time. So this, oh my brothers, is the perfect carry gun….for me.

    • ????

      The Kahr PM45 is shorter, skinnier, and lighter than the G36. Even my P45 is shorter, skinnier, and about the same weight.

      • “I never said it wasn’t.” laugh. I listed the virtues that keep me with it. Compare to two you mention, I prefer the trigger of the G36. As for skinnier, the difference is perhaps 1/10th of an inch? I don’t need shorter…the G36 is short enough. I much prefer the grip to the Kahr or Walther. Anyway, it’s only perfect for me, not you. “No G36 for YOU!” The hard part for me was moving away from 1911 designs.

  2. You and I had very similar experiences with the LC9. I ultimately could not get past the long trigger/reset and sold it. Too bad, since it was highly concealable and worked with the Crossbreed beautifully. I now see trigger kits are becoming available for the LC9. When I heard about them I had a small moment of regret that maybe I had bailed on the pistol too soon. Then I rationalized that spending money to upgrade the trigger, without knowing exactly what the results would be, was not something I wanted to do.

    So now I am back to my Glock 26. I have gained a new appreciation for its accuracy, ability to absorb recoil, overall trigger feel, capacity, etc. The extra width and weight is a small price to pay for all these positives. But, to your point, it still is not perfect.

  3. I have finally found something that works great for me. Kahr CW9 in a Crossbreed Snapside OWB. Very light, 7+1 and has a full grip and a smooth (but very long) trigger. I can hit anything with that gun. I sold it once thinking I want something better only to realize that was a mistake and conviced the guy to sell it back to me. Whew, that was close. I’m thinking about getting the K9 with nice roswood grips to go with it.

  4. “I tried a couple of the cheaper IWB holsters including DeSantis and Galco, but they really didn’t do the job. ”

    You covered the issue right there. Cheap holsters suck. Buy quality and you’ll only cry once.

    The CBST you settled on is a good choice, as is the MTAC. I haven’t tried anything else, but I know that there are a ton of good options, but you have to pay for the good stuff! 🙂

  5. Very interesting discussion. I will be trying to solve this same puzzle myself sometime over the summer.

    Since I have no experience with the models discussed and you bring up a concern with the magazine safety on the Ruger LC9, are the magazine release buttons on that model, or on any of the others discussed, so sensitive that a mere bump while drawing will drop the magazine? Semi-autos that I have experience with either require very firm pressure on the release button or moderate pressure with long travel before the catch is released.

    • Mike, I don’t know if this will be of much help, but as no one has replied, I own a S&W3913.
      It was my wife’s first carry auto. She carried it several years and never had a dropped magazine.
      Just FYI, there was a time when S&W autos were very popular with the police (before Glocks). Supposedly the mag safety was one of the reasons.
      There were stories of officers lives being save by dropping the mag in a struggle just before losing control of the gun. Then shooting the BG with their backup while the BG tried unsuccessfully to shoot them.
      No personal knowledge of this actually happening.

      • Thanks Ron. You confirmed that my personal experience was not just a one-off since I have the less favored brother of the 3913: the 908. The ‘bump’ needed to cause that mag to drop by accident would knock over some people. The 908 will be my first carry pistol unless I happen upon a gently used 4040PD before the permit process is complete.

  6. I love this article… and the picture. 🙂

    I ended up on the Kahr CW9, but got lucky and found a used P9 for $400.00

    And I’m anxiously awaiting the new secret M&P that is due out. I’m hoping for a single stack 9mm with a grip that I can fit all three fingers on.

  7. I’m kinda glad to read some about the Ruger’s functions. I was toying with the idea of fetting one for the Mrs. but the recoil issue and magazine safety would pretty much make it useless for her, so thanks for the heads up!

  8. Everyone might think I am crazy but I really like my Taurus pt140. I have shot the hell our of it and it performs just like my glock 22 as far as I am concerned. I don’t shoot quite as tight with the pt as I do with the glock but it is danged close. Of course it is not perfect either but it works for me.

  9. I fell in love with the Bersa Thunder .45. 7+1, inexpensive, and the grip feels comfy. The downside is the DA pull being upwards of 10lbs. SA pull is nice at sub 3lbs. I ordered a IWB holster from Still waiting on delivery. Holster comes with metal clips and leather loops, and a choice of a 1.5″ or 1.75″ belt to boot. Can’t wait for it’s arrival.

  10. When I first got my Glock 23 it seemed huge. Several months later, I’m still amazed at how concealable it is (I’m 5’10”). I like the ballistics of the .40 S&W cartridge and the way the Glock shoots.

    My pet peeve is the thickness of the gun. While Glocks are phat, they’re also thick. I started with a Galco Summer Comfort IWB holster. It added too much thickness to the already thick Glock, and the barrel dug into my hip at the 8:30 carry position (I’m left handed). I only carried this holster a few times.

    Next was the Remora holster. It added noticeably less thickness to the already thick Glock. The tapering at the end of the barrel eliminated the hip dig of the Galco. I got the one with the kydex band that makes reholstering a breeze. Overall it is very comfortable. But thickness was still an issue.

    After looking at some metal clips that can be attached to the gun to clip to your belt and pants, I came across the Versacarry II. It’s an L-shaped plastic bar with a clip on the top for your belt and a right angle and short post to go in the gun’s barrel. There’s also a shield that covers the trigger. This holster is half the thickness of the Remora, and noticeably thinner. I’ve been carrying it a couple months and love it, especially the $25 price.

    This summer, due to the seasonal change in my attire, I’ll have to find something else if I want to keep my Glock from direct contact with my sweaty flesh. I’m leaning towards a belly band type holder (SmartCarry or Stealth Holster), although the Glock may be a little long for that.

    While the weight, height and length of the Glock 23 don’t bother me, I’m still bugged by the thickness. With the absence of a single stack Glock, I’ve looked at options. The Walther PPS and Berretta Nano (when the 40 cal version comes out) have peaked my interest.

    While I’d never swap my 40 cal for a 380, a 380 mouse gun as a back up has appeal. I’m waiting patiently for Robert’s review of the MasterPiece Arms Protector II, based on the Seecamp design. It seems to have good ergonomics, is reasonably comfortable to shoot, and is very affordable. A pocket gun like that I’d carry all the time – even at home.

    I suspect the search for the perfect holster and gun never ends. Don’t tell my wife.

    • Have you tried something simple like buying pants with an inch bigger waist than your current pants?

      It seems funny to me that the width is such a big deal. A very thin gun is about 0.9″ while the Glock is about 1.15″ for a difference of 0.25″. While the Glock is almost 30% thicker I think the comparison should be to the waist. Compared to a 32″ waist the Glock adds less than 1% as compared to a 0.9″ gun. I could see the wider Glock having concealibility issues in OWB but for IWB it seems like bigger pants would solve the problem.

      Anyhow, I just got a G26 and have a Remora on order so I hope my math works out!

    • The Walther PPS and Berretta Nano (when the 40 cal version comes out) have peaked my interest.

      Both of those have the desirable (for many) characteristics of being fairly small, having no trigger safety and having no magazine safety. The PPS in 40 S&W is the same size as the PPS 9mm with one less round capacity.

      For me the Nano trigger is nicer than the LC9’s but the PPS trigger is nicer still. The PPS is slim, useful for IWB but the Nano is shorter, easier e.g. for pocket carry.

  11. Great article, Jim!

    I pocket carry a 642. It’s light and so easy to conceal that it disappears in a pocket. They never jam. For me, it’s very accurate. Then again, I’ve shot snubbys, including Chief’s Specials, Bodyguards (the shrouded-hammer snubby, not S&W’s latest plastic abomination) and Centennials for a long time, and they do take time to master.

    Would a snubby work for you? Maybe, or maybe not. There’s no perfect carry gun, which is great. Because if there was, TTAG would get boring in a hurry.

  12. I carry a .40 Beretta PX4-Storm Compact 6.8″ total length and 12 PDX1 180gr rounds, inlcuding one in the chamber, concealed in a wonderful pair of CCW Breakaway shorts. I have been wearing this setup for a couple months now and have asked all my family and friends if they could tell. I have asked two different police officers, one who is a 40 veteran and police academy trainer. They can tell I have something in my pocket like a wallet, cellphone, keys, etc…but no way would they think gun…….I can draw WAY quicker from my pocket than ever from a holster and the other pocket holds my nifty little 12 round backup mag, although keys and wallet will make accessing that a little tougher, but I have it down pretty fast now that I adjusted it higher. I live in Florida, the land of shorts and T-shirts. I use a OWB holster for practicing competition shooting, but for CCW, the very well designed pockets are all I’ll ever need. Oh…… no holster in the pocket either which breaks pocket carry rules, but not in this case.

    • Cargo shorts. Let’s you put the wallet in the lower pocket since it is not the item that you may need in a second to save your life.

      My favorite part of pocket carry is that if I get “the spidey senses tingling” it doesn’t look that abnormal for me to put my hands in my pocket. No one knows that my hand is on the handle already.

      • Another good point MadDawg, I have already put my ‘hand on the handle’ a few times when I had a weird sitch develop. It seems casual to put your hand in your pocket and if ever surprised by a thug my response would be, “let me get my wallet out for you.” I am not affiliated with CCW Breakaways in any manner, but when those pockets open up, they really open up and drawing the pistol is effortless and smooth. The cost is high enough for sure, but so were my guns and where my life is at stake, or my family’s lives, the cost of the pants are negligible and they fit and look great too. High quality material.

        • (Just checked out thier website)
          Interesting, I’ll have to share this with some detective friends. They have had tailors do a similar opening with velcro on thier pants. I like the pocket design allowing not normally pocketable pistols to be pocketed. I might pick up a pair to test out myself.

  13. My first carry gun became my first carry gun by accident.
    My wife decided to take some night classes and I decided she needed protection during the drive home.
    Limited choices plus spur of the moment decision resulted in the purchase of a Charter .38. Wife hated it. Bought her a S&W. I took the Charter.
    Carried it for two (2) years. Pocket carry.

    Wanted something more powerful. Bought a Ruger SP101. At the time the smallest and lightest .357 mag made. Carried it for five (5) years. Strong side carry.

    Wanted more capacity and pocket carry. Bought a Kahr K.40 Elite. Carried it for one (1) year.

    Wanted HC. Bought Walther P99CQA. Carried it for one (1) year. Pocket carry.

    Saw XD9822. Liked it. Slightly easier to conceal in front pocket. Twelve round backup mag. with extension. Bought it.
    Current carry gun. Nine (9) years and counting. Pocket carry. Never had any malfunctions. No plan to replace it in the foreseeable future.
    Wife carries XD9811. Same time period. Never had any malfunctions.

  14. I’m waiting for the P938 too, if that thing runs it’ll be the greatest thing to happen to the CCW world since the IWB holster was invented.

  15. I’ve got the notion that my next concealability pistol will be the Glock 27. Small (less height than a Kahr CW40), concealable, rounded corners with almost nothing to snag, no safety, reliable (it’s a Glock), great sights, Crimson Trace available, .40 S&W (about the perfect self defense round), 9+1 rounds, with the option to go upwards of 17 rounds for your spare mag. I’m having a hard time telling myself that my current carry gun, the M&P .45c, is better.

  16. I pocket carry a Kel-Tec PF9 and I love it. I’ve read of others having reliability problems, but I fire 50-100 rounds a week and have never had a single malfunction.

  17. Eventually you’ll just end up with a J-frame. I would tell you just to give in now, but it’s one of those things you have to learn for yourself.

    • Agreed. My 637 j frame disappears in my waistband and I completely forget about it…it’s the only CCW pistol I have that works well on all fronts (size, weight, ballistics). I’m still waiting for the right 9mm semi-auto that’ll hold 1-3 more rounds than the smith, with a great trigger. That’s when I’ll retire the Smith.

        • No holster…using the Desantis grip clip and tuck it in my waist band. Works very well on all “snug” pants/shorts and I completely forget about it. I prefer getting rid of the extra bulk of a holster.

    • Actually, I already have a Smith and Wesson 642 J-Frame. It’s a good inexpensive gun, but there are some things that give me pause. First of all, its only five shots and quite frankly, I suck at reloading. Yes, five shots generally should be enough, but in the rare situation of multiple assailants it might not be. I have tried moon clips as well as speed loaders and while they do make things quicker, its still not nearly as quick as changing out an automatic magazine.

      My second issue is that while the Smith is not as bad to shoot as the LC9, its still no picnic, particularly with +P rounds. Unfun to shoot means less range time, which means not as good with the pistol when you need it. Sure, I should just man up and get over it, but the fact is that my time at the range is scarce and I’d rather spend it shooting guns that I like. Plus, I’m more accurate with the P238 than I am with the Smith.

      Finally, I’m not spent enough time with concealed options for the smith. I have a pocket holster and the gun does a nice job there, but its not as fast to present as my automatic is from and IWB holster.

      I think what I need to do is try some IDPA in the revolver division using my Smith. I’m not going to win any big prizes as a snibbie is not likely to have the accuracy of a larger revolver, but it would at least give me an excuse to practice defensive gun stuff with it.

      • Check out a Ruger SP101 in either 2 or 3 inch. The extra weight makes them more enjoyable to shoot. The 3″ is not as pocketable, but is still very easy to conceal and is a great shooter.

        “First of all, its only five shots”
        Do you really feel that 6 or 7 shots of .380 is better than 5 shots of .38 special? (or better yet, .357 Mag?)

  18. I am in the same boat. I too had the LC9, fell out of love and continue to search. Right now, I have two I carry. The Sig C3 (45acp) and a Kahr P45. The Kahr is in the shop because it won’t shoot right…we will have to see on that.

    If the 938 was available I would buy one now (I could always sell if I don’t like it), but since it will be some months most likely, I am considering ordering a Walther PPS in 9mm and putting Night sights on it. The Walther (with 7 +1 in stock form) plus an extra 8 round mag in my pocket should keep me out of trouble. I just don’t like the mag release on that one and the trigger is not as nice as a SAO or even my P45. Considering a P239 or a Kahr K9/P9 but I am not sure.

    Oh choices, choices…

    Keep posting your thoughts on this, it is helping, if only to know I am not the only one…

    • A lightly used Kahr K9 is the gun that I ended up with after my year long quest. Other than the long trigger pull and reset it’s the ideal CCW…for me. Great ergos, DAO, no external safeties, a pleasure to shoot, and 0.9″ thin. I’m satisfied and I’ve quit looking.

  19. I carried a .50AE Desert Eagle for TTAG a while back, in a custom Louisville Leather IWB holster. Yes, IWB. No sh!t.

    It was actually comfortable and concealed pretty well. Go figure.

  20. a .380 is simply not enough gun should I found myself in a DGU situation.

    Generally speaking, when you’re in a DGU situation you’re not trying to kill someone, you’re trying to stop a fight. A .380 has enough power to stop a fight.

    Hell, it only took one punch from a skinny teenager to put George Zimmerman on the ground.

    • Yes and no. I would agree that against a typical angry person, a .380 may be enough gun – you may not even have to pull the trigger. However, if your assailant is hopped up on drugs or out of his mind, you are going to want something with enough power to put them down. A .380 is less likely to cause the kind of wounding that a larger caliber would necessary to cause someone to bleed out quickly unless you are lucky enough to hit a major organ. The more accounts that I read of actual gun fights the more I’m convinced the .380 is not up to the task in certain situations.

    • I disagree on the ‘aim’ of “just trying to stop a fight.” I am a fairly large man with many fistfights under my belt. If I have my weapon out and am firing it, I mean to kill. Do you shoot to wound???

  21. I carry a Glock 30SF with a spare mag.

    I find the Glock perfectly concealable with either a double layer of clothing (T-shirt tucked in and a flannel dress shirt or sweater over in the grand Foghorn style) or an oversized polo shirt (for the summer).

    The biggest challenge: weight. So I carry the gun in a Del Santis Speed Scabbard threaded through The Mother of All Gun Belts: a Crossbreed. Problem solved.

    To be Mass compliant, a gun’s magazines can hold no more than 10 rounds. The 30SF’s 11 rounds of .45 is as much punch as I can get.

    And here’s the really good bit: I shoot the gun really well. I have full (i.e. reasonable) faith and confidence that I can hit center mass with either or both hands at 5 to 10 yards. Moving. Without my glasses.

    Oh, and for those times when I dress up (both of them), I carry a Gemini Customs’ trigger-modified hammerless J-frame with a laser, ported laterally.

    It may not work for everyone, but I’ve yet to find a better combination and, like you, I’ve tried a few. Well, a lot more than a few. In other words, YMMV. (Note: the SF is not appropriate for shooters with big mitts).

  22. Out here on the left coast, the issue is even more difficult because of the relative dearth of small or pocket pistols on the California roster. For example, I can buy an LC9 but not an LCP, a bodyguard 38 but not a .380, a full size 1911 but not a Mustang. Most counties will not allow you to list anything smaller than a .380 or .38 on your permit. None of the compact Sigs are legal here at present (although the P238 made the roster LAST June, but apparently is not slated for production until THIS June (one month before its registration expires. Go figure). We get XDs, but not XDms, and I suspect we won’t be getting the new XDS either. No Kimber Solo (not that they are worth buying given the over MSRP premium they are selling for). Every time I see a new gun that I think would be a great buy I find I can’t buy it.
    The thing I have found is that a great holster covers a world of difficulties. The problem with those, other than the expense, is the months long wait to get one. But there are plenty of people carrying full size 1911s, and quite a few officer models (its the grip that is the issue, not the barrel length). My Kimber Concealed Carry weighs about 27 oz dry, and other than the botom of the grip digging into my ribs is quite comfortable as a carry piece. And it beats a LC9, although I still want a pocket pistol!

    • My nephew just moved to CA and I spent some time researching the laws. The big misconception is that you can’t possess a handgun in Ca that’s not on the the California Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale. That’s not true. The Roster does not apply to ownership or possession — you just can’t buy the handgun in CA from a CA FFL licensed dealer. You can buy one from a private party that is already in state. You can get one by gift from a member of your immediate family (grandparent, parent, child) who lives out of state. If you are moving into the state, you can bring your handguns. The handguns themselves are not illegal to possess, but don’t have a mag with more than a 10 round capacity.

      • Yes, there are loopholes, like buying guns of of LEOs and private party transactions–but it isn’t like you can go into your local gun store and buy what you want when you want, and if its off roster, it is usually at some kind of a premium. One loophole is the single shot conversion inwhich a sled is put in the magazine to completely block it and a specified length barrel is added. Once transferred, the gun can immediately be reconverted to its original form, as long as the magazine can hold no more than 10 rounds. You can’t bring in or possess 10+ round mags unless you owned them “pre-ban”, so that really limts a lot of out of state firearms with what we like to call “normal” capacity mags. And the inter-family transfer is up or down, but not across. e.g., Father/mother to son/daughter (and vice versa), but not sib to sib or transfers from aunts/uncles and cousins. And you can’t send money to that relative and have them buy you a gun–that’s a straw purchase. And then we get into the whole “assault weapons” thingy (something I know little about); there are a lot of “features” on assault type weapons that are illegal in California, including foregrips, flame suppressors, threaded barrels, mags removeable without a tool, “extended capacity” mags removeable or not, and that thingy in the back that goes up, that CANNOT be brought into the state without committing a felony.

    • I’ve always disliked the term “left coast” used to refer to California exclusively, especially in the context of guns, because there are three free states out here, and Alaska is a Constitutional Carry state, for cryin’ out loud.

  23. For summertime I carry a Walther P99AS in 9mm that weighs in at just over 21 oz without the magazine (15 rounds). I carry in a Galco Kingtuk and always have a spare mag. There is a compact version that shaves about 4 oz off the overall weight and has a 10 rd magazine.
    In the Winter I carry either a Sig P220 Carry or a P229 in a Hunter Prohide.
    I have been known to carry a Walther PK380 in an Uncle Mikes IWB soft holster with just a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.

  24. I love how people will bypass a snubbie for a pocket mouse gun. 5 shots of .357 Mag > 6 or 7 shots of .380 any day.

    • Second for the PPS. It’s not nasty like the Rugers, not SAO like the Sig, not fat like the double stacks, and not .380 or .357 (both of which suck in their own ways).

      The single most important thing the PPS has over many of the other guns in its size range is how easy it is to shoot. Yes, it’s heavy. Yes, it’s ugly. But it’s thin where you want it to be, as reliable as the day is long, and packs a good compromise caliber (9mm or .40). It’s also a good deal at ~$550.

      Don’t let me dissuade you guys who want your uncontrollable hand cannons or micro 1911s, though.

      • So the only options are “uncontrollable hand cannons”, “micro 1911s” or the PPS? Interesting, none of my extensive gun collection falls into either of those three categories and I’ve been carrying concealed for over a decade.

  25. Nothing beats a snub nosed (or larger) K frame .38 or .357 revolver. No safety to mess about with, no magazines to worry about, no sharp angles to print through clothing, and a nice metal surface to beat someone senseless with if things get close and personal. I carry a 4 inch .38 every day in an IWB holster.

  26. Idk, I didn’t find the recoil on my LC9 all THAT bad. It wasn’t a palm massage but it was plenty tolerable to practice with. My biggest issue with the LC9 was accuracy (or lack thereof). Small awkward grip, short sight radius, short barrel and a trigger made of tears and broken dreams. Slow fire can keep me in the 10 ring out to 20 feet.

  27. There is no ideal carry gun and they are all compromises.
    Wearing lighter Summer clothing usually makes things harder to conceal.
    A lot of people are not comfortable carry hand cannons.
    Weight and size can be an issue if you are active and doing multiple activities.
    I carry a Walther PP, but it really is not ideal.

  28. I’ve CC the Glock 30 SF with an extension on the 10 rnd.mag for my pinky grip for thirteen years with IWB, with an extra thirteen rnd. mag- no limit on mag capacity, thank god! comfortable and conceals even with a T-shirt. It’s legal to carry an unloaded CC weapon without a permit, it’s Shall Issue to CC a loaded weapon.

    OC here in NM is legal without a permit , the common citizen dosen’t freak out even in the city and the cops don’t hassle you over the practice. When I OC it’s a Glock 20 10mm in a Blackhawk kydex paddle with two extra fifteen rnd. mags in in the same brand mag holder.

    Freedom is good!

  29. I assume LC9 recoil will be about on par with my PF-9. It stings (slightly) if I shoot it one-handed, so I gave it a Hogue slip-on and called it good. If the ease of carry makes me more likely to have it on me, so much the better.

    The small size and light weight has tradeoffs when it comes to shooting, sure. I can live with that if it makes me more likely to obey the first rule of gunfights.

  30. “Finding the grail is not the goal: the QUEST is the goal.”

    Think of this process as a great excuse to buy LOTS of new handguns. Remember – you are legally entitled to a minimum of one gun of every type (you define “type”) for every year of your life. [99 USC 4682.33(b)(ii)]. (Don’t bother looking that up, just trust me.)

  31. Still packing a Rohrbaugh R9 stoked with 7 rounds of Black Talon in a pocket wallet holster. If I get robbed, I have the option of grabbing my real wallet or the one that goes “bang”. Would I rather carry my Kimber or Glock, yep, but I can’t throw one in a pair of shorts with no shirt on at the beach. My second choice is my Scandium hammerless j frame in .357. In my jacket pocket it never needs to come out to be used. It re-defines concealed. It doesn’t come with a sewing kit to fix your pocket, so use sparingly!

    • .357 is an impossible round when it comes to quick follow-up shots. As Ralph taught me, you start low with a J-frame .38 and then shoot a little higher with each following shot (naturally, due to recoil). You “zip ’em up.”

      In short, your odds are better shooting multiple .38s. IMHO.

  32. Try Clipdraw. It allows you to carry inside the waistband with only the grip sticking out. I have routinaly carried laege service pistols this way for years.

  33. i carry a sig sauer fastback nightmare ,its a 1911 .45 acp with a rounded butt .it hides very well under a loose fitting t-shirt , i use a black hawk iwb holster ..why not allways comfortable ,its comforting to know its there

  34. Get a nice ruger lcr the 38 model is plenty powerful with +p ammo and very is also very light and easy to conceal anywhere the only downside obviously is far as the lc9 I mean no disrespect but if it caused you the amount of pain you say it did you must have sensitive hands.while it does have some feeling in it it is not uncomfortable to shoot at all and I have rather large hands

  35. Well, I am one of those gun owners that switches from .380 LCP or Bersa Thunder, to Glock 23 or 21 in .40 and .45. Then there’s .38 snubby and “get off me” American Arms mini .22 mag…. I killed a 10 pt on my way to work, back in 1997, with Bersa .380, thats enough power for me and it holds as good a pattern as the Glocks, just have to watch out for hammer pulling back while inside waist small of back carrying. Don’t want another hole in my ass!

  36. i have carried s+w 40 beretta 40 compact tried a friends bersa 380 thunder 380 omg enough power and very accurate a little range time and beware nice lite love the bersa carry it always if need more coat and ak lol nice article i am sure anyone with some range time can drop a assailant with a 380 stay safe

  37. Just one thing more. I do not carry CCW, but it seems to me that many police agencies throughout the world used .32 acp for a century or so and it worked for them. I really would not want to get hit with any bullets, and plenty of.32 and smaller caliber has taken the majority of civilian firearm deaths.
    Unless you are commonly dealing with drugged up assailants or are a not so professional hit man and have to make the kill, a P-64, a pocket .380 or .32 should do the job. After all, you are carrying in summer clothes and you should be enjoying yourself. If you want more sure power, carry openly, with a full sized gun belt and holster.


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