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In 1967 I bought a Ruger Bearcat .22 with the proceeds from the only mink ever to stumble into one of my traps. After carrying it constantly, the sheriff called me in and told me that if I absolutely had to carry it everywhere, at least hide it under a coat. I was 16, and there weren’t many relevant laws back then.¬†Fast forward . . .

As a Marine counterintelligence officer/agent in post-Vietnam Asia, an issue Airweight Chief’s Special in a Berns-Martin rig was about all that would hide under the fitted Class A uniform blouse, though a government model 1911 disappeared under a field jacket nicely.

Returning to the States where personal weapons were allowed for plainclothes CI duty, I asked Tim LaFrance to build me one of his tiny Novas, a pocket-sized 9mm cut down from the excellent Star BKM. That served me well until resigning my commission in 1982.

As a civilian in California, a series of S&W J-frames were kept pocketed or handy until a very cheap, barely-used Kimber Ultra Carry II appeared at a local shop. After some serious smithing to make it feed, that became the motorcycle gun, riding in a Mitch Rosen “Tito’s Revenge” holster in appendix carry during my long rides across the country.

Fast forward again. Now retired in South Dakota, this Dan Wesson V-Bob in the High Noon horsehide holster is the most used concealed rig. It’s stoked with Black Hills Ammo +P 230-grainers and one spare mag is usually in a back pocket.

Why .45 ACP? In my experience, it works, even without expanding. Why the V-Bob? The Commander size is easy to conceal, fast to deploy, and accurate. The quality of the components and the build is pretty much equal to the customs, though I’ve only handled and examined those and haven’t shot them extensively. This one I used for IDPA competition for two years, have something like 10,000 rounds through, and trust completely. This is the one I put on with my trousers every morning.

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  1. I’d never heard of the LaFrance Novas, though I loved my early production Star PD 45. But being a southpaw, the lack of an ambidextrous safety eventually led to me swapping it for one dog of a S&W 1917. Ooh, that’s a painful memory..

    • I still have your old 1917 or should I saw “Hand Ejector Model of 1917”? Never did get the crane to lock up perfectly but hey, it still works.

  2. I’ve always liked the “quality at a reasonable price” aspect of the DW 1911’s. I was worried some years back when I heard they were bought out by CZ, but it appears CZ hasn’t repeated the stupids that large US gun makers pull on smaller, higher-quality shops when they buy them up.

    • That’s a great point that doesn’t get enough press. CZ turns out some really great stuff at really reasonable prices. I’ve always been a fan of Dan Wesson revolvers and have been eyeing a DW 45. There’s a gun show today… Hmmmm….

      • Rob, the “Heritage” model is the best deal out there. The finish is a step down from the top-of-the-line “Valor,” but the parts quality and fit are the same. I have one and love it, and was sorely tempted to buy an unused “used” one that showed up at the gunshop and was marked under $800. I have no experience with any of the aluminum-framed models, so can’t recommend one way or the other on those.

  3. I recently learned that Dan Wesson’s are made about a half hour drive from me. Ive been wanting a couple of them since then.

  4. I was very impressed with the Dan Wesson 1911s I handled. The slide on the Heritage model felt like it was rolling on polished ball bearings. I’d like to add one to my “arsenal” at some point.

  5. I use a Valor in competition. It’s a great gun. I have over 4000 through mine. The finish has held up wonderfully. I would love a VBob. Only complaint with 1911s for carry is if you shoot them and keep them lubed like you should where the oil runs out the back of the slide will get on your cover garment always.

  6. Damn! They are proud of that mother scratcher but then again…nothings to good for our friends…to quote Charles Bronson.


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