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I’ve carried the spectrum of handguns from a G20 to a NAA mini-revolver. TTAG has been there to help guide the last few purchases, so here’s a condensed version of the journey:

Kimber CDP, .45ACP:  An absolute joy to shoot, the CDP is still my favorite range piece. It was my only pistol when I received my first CCW permit, so I carried it in a CrossBreed SuperTuck.  It didn’t take long to admit that a 5” barrel and checkered wood grips weren’t comfortable or concealable under a t-shirt . . .

Kahr P40, .40S&W:  As a student of 1980’s FBI ballistic tests (who wasn’t?), I was once a firm believer in the absolute compromise of power and capacity, the .40S&W.  The Kahr was a slick piece, with a fine trigger and usable sights.  The recoil was stout, and the pistol itself tended to break a spring or fail to extract every 50-100rds, so I moved on.

GLOCK 23, .40S&W:  I still appreciated .40S&W, but wanted to increase reliability and ‘shootability’ (decrease recoil).  The G23 was all of that, and more.  I carried the G23 for a couple years, sometimes with a .357Sig conversion barrel, and was always impressed with it’s accuracy and reliability.  But it was still a relative brick on the belt, and since I’m not winning any lifting competitions anytime soon, I needed something smaller.

Kahr P45, .45ACP:  I hadn’t given up on Kahr.  The interwebs seemed to adore the little pistols, and I figured a .45ACP version would kick a little softer.  Recoil was softer, but had the same reliability issues the P40 faced.  Fool me twice…

Compact 4” 1911, .45ACP:  The full-size CDP was everything I wanted in a pistol, except size, so the obvious solution was to carry a smaller version.  This worked for a while, but I quickly wished I’d bought a 3” model…so…

Subcompact 3” 1911, .45ACP:  The 3” Kimber was still pleasant to shoot, much easier to conceal than the 4” model, but the sharp edges still dug into my waist from that CrossBreed.  I was ticked—this was the chosen pistol, and it was still relatively heavy and hurt to carry.

Ruger LC9, 9mm:  Until this time, I was still a hardcore .45/.40/.357 guy.  No pansy would be caught dead with a 9mm.  Then I admitted carrying a .45, specifically a 1911, wasn’t for me.  So I went back to the basics and STB410 showed me the way.  Modern HP ammunition had jumped leaps and bounds since the 1980-90’s era ammo that gave 9mm a bad rap in gunshop talk.  I settled on an LC9:  It was slim, it felt great in the hand, and it disappeared into a holster.  But oh boy, that trigger was awful, the myriad of California-approved safeties were worse, and I knew that I’d make a mistake with all those levers and safeties when my life depended on it.

Ruger LCP, .380ACP:  The LCP wasn’t exactly a linear decision after the LC9. It was a gap-filler, carried when bumming around the house or when the dress code didn’t allow a bigger pistol.  Other readers have commented on the utility of a pea-shooter, and I echo that sentiment.  I’ve owned 3 LCPs, as Ruger improved the triggers and sights, and they’ve always been 100% reliable.  I’ll always have an LCP around the house.

GLOCK G30SF, .45ACP:  I gave .45ACP one final chance, with the smooth grips of a Glock to avoid the jab-in-the-waist issue.  Yep, a full-size/compact Glock was still a brick on the belt.  I considered the G36, but the grip length vs. width was awkward for my hands; just handling it in the gunshop showed me that wasn’t an option.

Ruger LCR, .357Mag:  I was still timid about .380/9mm as a primary ammo choice (STB410 was doing the Lord’s work, but I wasn’t yet a stout convert), so the legendary power of the .357Mag was worth a shot.  The smooth trigger was encouraging.  The wide cylinder didn’t make pocket or IWB carry very comfortable, and full-power .357 loads were painful.  If I was going to shoot .38 Special +P, why not just get a 9mm and have 2-4 more rounds?

Ruger LC9s Pro, 9mm:  I appreciated the original LC9’s curves and profile, but the trigger and communist safeties were atrocious. The LC9s Pro fixed everything:  An excellent trigger, no manual safety, no magazine-disconnect safety, and extended (9-round) mags for better capacity. Overall, the LC9s Pro is my ideal concealed pistol. I stoke it with Federal HST 124gr.

So if this guy settled on the LC9s Pro, why is he still jabbering?  Because guns are fun, shooting is fun, and there are always new toys to try out. I still carry the LC9s Pro in a Crossbreed SuperTuck while around town, but the search for the ‘best’ is half the fun. My new favorite is the GLOCK 42. The G43 was sitting right next to it on the gun counter, but the G42 melted into my hand, especially with a one-handed grip. The extended mags allowed for a solid purchase and a total of 9 rounds. It’s slimmer and lighter than the LC9, carries a little easier, and draws smoothly from “The Betty” holster.  I’ve never seen such accuracy or soft recoil out of a pistol this small; it’s almost as enjoyable as the CDP. Once the basic reliability criteria is met (let’s restart that debate!), my ability to draw, fire, and place rounds where they need to go is paramount, and I’m confident in my ability to do that with the G42. As I write this, it’s on my hip with 7 rounds of Inceptor ARX.

(See the rest of the posts in this series here. Send your What I Carry and Why submissions with a photo to [email protected] with WICAW in the subject line.)

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  1. Wow, from a 10mm and 45acp to a .380…. I’ve owned and carried all of the calibers brought up in this article, and currently carry a G26, must to carry a .380 that large when there are 9mm options similar/identical in size it simply doesn’t wash with me. If you carried a full size 1911 I don’t get how u end up with a large .380. A .380 rarely meets the fbi minimum with hollow points, it goes too deep with Fmj if u are worried about that sort of thing. Get a G43 or your lc9s and dump the .380.

    • Outside the property, such as griot to town during the weekend, it’s almost exclusively the LC9. My job won’t allow me to carry at work or on the property (guvment), so most of the time I do carry during the work week its at home. There’s a G20 and a KSG placed around the home, but when working on projects in the garage I’ve got the G42 on my hip. It just feels so good…

      • Not to worry– I haven’t met anyone yet who volunteered to let me shoot them with my 9×18 at SD distance to demonstrate how ineffective it is. And don’t get started with outliers like the drug-fueled superman; those guys have been known to withstand everything up to the mighty .357 magnum; when something like that comes up all bets are off anyway.

      • Fair enough Anner, you have definitely thought this out and weighed the pros and cons that fit your lifestyle. Your life, your choice.

  2. When I carry concealed, it is a G30, compact .45ACP. I can carry in an IWB holster while wearing jeans and a T-shirt and no one the wiser. I don’t really notice the weight anymore.

    When I OC, it’s a full sized Kimber 1911 or a Sig-Sauer 10mm Elite. The same thing about the weight. I’ve carried so many years now, it feels funny when I don’t have the weight on my belt if I’m in a situation where I can’t OC or CC.

  3. +1 on the LC9S Pro. What a fantastic plastic gun. Amazing trigger lets me be more accurate than my frankly more comfortable M&P shield. Small enough that there’s no reason not to pack it. Munches on Critical Defense. Alabama pocket holster or aliengear 2 for me.

  4. I feel sad about your experiences with the kahr. I wonder if you’d have had the same troubles if you started with the 9mm or 380 variants.

    • I bet the 9mm Kahrs run like a top. I haven’t seen any negative reports. That was also early in the search and I wasn’t a fan of 9mm yet. By the time I got around to 9mm, I was married and the budget was suddenly a joint decision. Hence an LC9 vice a Kahr.

      That’s been one theme on this journey: if a pistol was originally designed around one cartridge and its adopted to fit another (usually bigger) cartridge, it doesn’t work quite as well. Early 40 pistols were just 9mms with wider barrels, until frames started cracking. The intricacies of small parts within the action were designed for that smaller cartridge, and it seems that sometimes the company is under pressure to release (sts) a 40/45 model. I’ve handled 9mm Kahrs and they were smooth as silk. Chambering a 45 model felt gritty and weak, as though the springs weren’t stiff enough.

  5. I find my LCP gets carried more that any other pistol. It fits in my pocket (with holster of course) and is never a burden to carry. My larger carry gun is a CZ P01, but it only goes with me during colder weather. That’s only a few months out of the year here.

  6. Your choice is OK with me. Yeah it does seem odd to go from a magnum beast hunting round to marginal 380 but I had a TCP(which I wished I’d kept) so I understand. Most of us aren’t getting in gunfights so having a gun is # 1…

  7. That “Betty” holster looks awesome! Too bad the link shows it is getting discontinued and they have no nore G42 models left.

    • I bought it at the BX on base, but I’ve also seen them at Academy. It’s A decent holster, fairly comfortable and doesn’t rotate much on the belt. It also retains the pistol very well, due to the tight molding.

      I’d recommend a SHTFgear or Crossbreed mini tuck. I’ve used those for single stack pistols and they were more comfortable and had zero movement on the belt.

      • My G42 is currently sitting in a Don Hume Leathergoods holster that I’ve been using about 3 weeks now. I carry Appendix and it doesn’t move around on me.

  8. “I knew that I’d make a mistake with all those levers and safeties when my life depended on it.”

    Talks about carrying a 1911 then complains about the manual safety on a lc9. Hmmm. Granted the mag disconnect is annoying.

    • I could have made that more clear: the 1911 manual safety (on the ones I’ve carried) is a huge paddle board of a switch that a blind, thumbless monkey could find, even with a thug monkey charging him. That’s something I (or anybody, I’m not special) could train to use.

      The LC9 and LC9s have a microscopic widget Ruger deemed a manual safety. It’s true function is a chiclet that renders the pistol inop until you smash your thumb against the extreme aft end of the slide. No Bueno. It also has the mag disconnect, as you mentioned. Some argue that it’s a handy device, that you can dump the mag if the BG is fighting you for the gun and transform the piece into a decent paperweight. That sounds like a terrible, California-approved idea. In the small chance I’m in a DGU situation, there’s an even tinier chance within that situation that I’ll be wrestling for control of my pistol. Training, creating distance, and tactically moving off the X in expert operator fashion mitigate that concern. That almost negligible concern.

      Im not a fan of safeties in general. Even in quality holsters, I’ve had the safety engage or disengage from rubbing against the holster. On an LC9, that’s a bad surprise (engaging it when that 200lb trigger don’t need no stinking safety). On a 1911 it doesn’t hamper employment, but that light of a trigger riding around on my hip needs something to help secure it.

      The LC9s Pro and G42 (and every Glock I’ve carried, PPQ, etc) combine the best features: a smooth and crisp trigger as the only lever on the pistol. Nothing to mess up or surprise you.

  9. I, too am a bit of an OCD type in my quest for the perfect ccw pistol. Currently it’s a Glock 43 90% of the time. My job as an outside sales rep does not specifically preclude me from carrying, as long as I’m not on company property. I had a Ruger LCP in a pocket holster for awhile, but I just prefer Glocks in general. Interestingly, the Don Hume model 715 IWB leather holster I bought for my (former) Kahr CM-9 fits my Glock 43 perfectly, and it also fits my “fancy” ccw gun, a Para Elite Carry 3″ 1911 that I’ve had a little work done on. The Glock 42 is a nice gun. I was just about ready to break down and get one after waiting forever for the Glock 43, and got a call out of the blue from my favorite LGS, letting me know the 43 was in. It’s a bit snappy, but controllable, and more reliable than my Kahr, which used to release its magazine randomly. I would have no trouble with a Shield, quality wise, but the longer grip is harder to hide. I feel an article of my own coming on…

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