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Cliff's 642
Our What I Carry And Why series proved to be very popular. Kinda like pics of pocket dumps, lots of readers like to get a glimpse at what others carry and their reasoning behind the choices. So now that you’ve seen what TTAG’s writers tote, we’d like to open the floor to you, our gentle readers. If you’d like to let the world know what you strap on every day, email your post (with at least one well-lit, properly focused photo) to [email protected] with WICAW (all caps) in the subject line. We’ll pick some of the best and run them here for your enjoyment. Here’s Cliff H.’s unsolicited contribution to kick things off . . .

I live in Las Vegas. It’s HOT. I don’t complain about it (much), because I chose to move here and I knew it was hot before I made the decision. At least it’s a dry heat, not like Austin or San Antonio, where I have also spent a bit of time. That said, heat affects wardrobe and wardrobe affects what, when and how I carry.

Let’s start with what. I have a Smith & Wesson 686 with a 6” barrel, but I don’t carry that. It can’t be concealed under a T-shirt and it’s impossible to get more than a few hundred yards with it open carried without someone wanting to talk to you about it – pro or con. Love the gun – I’ve had it for almost 30 years now and it is the best-shooting pistol I’ve ever handled. But until open carry becomes a little more routine, I think I’ll stay in the safe.

Among the pistols I do carry: a S&W 642 Airweight, a Ruger SR9c, and a Ruger LC9s.

The 642 used to be my everyday carry when I was still in Tacoma. It’s very good at deep concealment and so comfortable that it’s not difficult to go about your business and forget that it’s even there at your side. I carried it IWB in a Remora at 3:00. But as mentioned in a recent post, the factory trigger on the 642 is a beast. When I let my mother shoot it she had to be coaxed to keep pulling – she thought the pistol must have been broken or something before she finally got it to go bang.

Another negative, which could probably be cured with a little practice, is that no matter how careful I was the thing always hit 6” low and right. Good enough for bad breath distances, but with only five rounds at hand it seemed like accuracy might be an important safety factor.

I had previously owned a Ruger P-85 which I sold to get the 642. There was no way I could comfortably conceal that big pistol. Even though I really liked the P-85 and was comfortable and accurate shooting it, it just wasn’t a practical EDC for me and in Washington, especially in the Seattle-Tacoma area, I was advised that although it was entirely legal, unless I really enjoyed frequent conversations with law enforcement officers, open carry was a very bad option.

Cliff's SR9c

So I went to the WAC (Washington Arms Collectors) gun show in Puyallup one weekend looking for a semi-auto compact 9mm and discovered the marvelous SR9c. How so marvelous? It fit my hand and pointed like it was custom built for me. It held 17+1 of 9mm +P. It has proven to be absolutely reliable with whatever ammo I loaded into it and has never malfunctioned or failed to fire. In an IWB BladeTech or Alien Gear the thing just disappears when you carry with the optional 10 round mag.

Now that I’m in Vegas and can in many cases open carry (it’s legal, but frowned upon on the Strip and/or in casinos, and North Las Vegas has a reputation for using intimidation to discourage the practice) I frequently, especially when it’s hot, haul my trusty SR9c in an OWB Blackhawk CQC with Level 2 retention. Not as much of a conversation starter as Mr. 686. But even with the 10 round mag has almost twice the rounds available without a reload.

Cliff's LC9s

Finally, I recently acquired a Ruger LC9s to replace the 642 when I wanted to deep conceal in hot weather. It’s not as nice on the trigger as the SR9c, nor as accurate, but it is lighter and as a single-stack (7+1) it is substantially slimmer. I carry it IWB in the Remora that used to hold the 642 and even with a tucked shirt only just enough of the grip shows to hook a few fingers around for the draw. With a t-shirt or polo untucked, it absolutely cannot be detected unless you bump up against me on the right side. And it slips nicely into the console of my car or the portable safe in the trunk in case I am forced to enter an Unarmed Victim Zone.


I’m a Ruger guy. When people ask me why, I just tell them, “They work for me and give me confidence. I shoot them well and I suspect they are good enough to compensate for many of my personal shortcomings as a shooter.” When they ask me if they should buy a Ruger I always give them this advice: “They are great pistols, but go to your local range and rent a few different brands before you make any decision on what pistol to buy.” Testimonials and advice are all well and good, but don’t buy hype – try before you buy and buy what works for you.


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  1. I also carry a 642 and would highly recommend the Apex trigger kit — inexpensive, easy to install, and the difference in trigger pull is night and day. Would never carry a J-frame without it.

      • I looked at the LCR when I bought my 642 (about a year ago). I love the fact that it is a little lighter, and has a MUCH better trigger. The LCR was also $60-70 dollars more at the time ($360ish for the 642 vs around $430 or so for the LCR). I though the 642 looked MUCH nicer than the LCR. The 642 is a classy looking little gun. I also thought the larger rubbery grip of the LCR might not be as good for pocket carry (but better for recoil).

        Both are pretty good guns.

  2. Love Rugers. If I had been able to find a dang SR9c anywhere when I bought my first handgun, I wouldnt be such a boring Glock 19 owner now.

  3. I like the P series Rugers much more then the SR series. Granted, the P’s are ridiculously fat, heavy, and clunky, but boy are they great guns.

    • The Ruger P series is also no longer in production. They do have a habit of dropping firearms for a year or two and retooling and coming out with a newer better version, so I’m hoping they’ll be back. That or Beretta coulld put the 4″ full size slide on the Storm compact. That would do too.

      • At 58 and carrying since I was 21, guns have landed on the ground twice. Once in the early days of carrying, probably only 21 or 22, I was using a shoulder holster for a S&W M 39 and while I was leaning over, it fell out of the holster landing right on the hammer on cement and pointed right at my face. That was the last time I ever used a shoulder holster. The next time wasn’t that long ago and I didn’t drop it, but I had my Ruger SR22 in a Sticky Holster laying on the floor of the car. The pistol had slid out of the holster and when I went to get out, the pistol fell out the door onto the asphalt.
        I drop things all the time, but for whatever reason, guns aren’t one of them.

    • I love my SR9c, but I wish they had made an SR9c Pro model, with no magazine disconnect, no manual safety, and night sights just because: “reasons”

      Mine has the mag disconnect removed, and has Talon grips which are AWESOME on that gun!

      • You want a compact, no-manual safety 9E.

        I have no issued with the manual safety. It has a very positive click, and large enough for me. I removed the magazine disconnect after an incident where my magazine popped out due to sitting in a weird chair a restaurant.

        • I just want a compact 9E.

          I don’t mind the safety, and the magazine disconnect linkage takes all of 7 minutes to remove.

  4. The only thing Ruger could do to improve the LC9s Pro is offer it in stainless. It’s a nice gun that holds one more cartridge that the Glock 43 and is easier to conceal.

    • Concealment is a key feature. I’ve discovered that even open carried in the Remora, when I wear black pants and a dark shirt the thing is almost invisible.

      • Concur on the LC9s. It’s not the smallest micro-9, but for some reason, it disappears on my smaller-than-average body. I sold a Glock 26 to get one and never looked back.

  5. “It [SR9c] has proven to be absolutely reliable with whatever ammo I loaded into it and has never malfunctioned or failed to fire.”

    This appears to be an almost “universal truth”. Everyone I hear from says that the Ruger SR9 (and apparently SR9c) series eats EVERYTHING you feed them. They seem to be accurate as well. And at something like $380 versus $550 for a Glock, why would anyone ever buy a Glock? Beats me.

    • Well, I’ve never soaked my SR9c in peanut butter overnight and then tried to run White Box through it.

      • I have no idea how they would compare to Glocks in terms of torture tests. All I know is that they seem to cycle properly whether you load hollowpoints or ball ammunition, whether you use aluminum, steel, or brass cases, whether you use light or heavy-for-caliber bullets, regardless of the country of manufacture of the ammunition.

        And their triggers are even “good enough”.

        Now I just have to find a video that shows how to remove the safety.

        • I’ve been looking at the LC9s and the M&P Shield 9. I like the LC9s except for the disconnect. A quick bit of searching turned up this: It’s a pretty decent video except he’s using a claw hammer instead of something plastic tipped. Made me cringe every time he put a pin back in.

          Now that I know the Pro exists and that I could remove the disconnect, the LC9s just went up a couple of notches on my list.

        • I’m sure they’re out there. I followed instructions for LC9 and removed frame safety, mag disconnect, and LCI, first gun took 2 hours, second was 15 minutes.

    • My SR9C us one of the original production runs. Directly compared it to Kahr, Taurus, Glock, and others. Still chose the Ruger partly due to (like the author) a positive experience with a P series.
      While the 9C has always fed anything reliably, it started getting light primer strikes at ~ 1500 round count (mostly WWB, go figure). That led to an LCR that is still in the carry rotation. A spring and polished plunger and striker indicator from Galloway Precision has so far completely cured the light strikes and allowed the 9C to again be a primary CCW and a trusted IDPA competition pistol.

    • My 9c does not like to cycle Tulaammo.

      The striker does not reset back into the breech face before the casing hits it and suddenly it’s jammed… usually a tap will get it into battery, but not always. I blame the ammo of course as no other brands have ever done that.

        • I’ve got 7000 rounds through my Glock 17. It’s only had one malfunction, and it was with a Tulammo 9mm round. The primer has been struck by the striker, showing the gun did its part, I just got a crappy round.

          It’s hard to turn down ammo that cheap for practice, I just wouldn’t trust my life to it

  6. This series has inspired to compare carry pistols using an analytical technique known as gray math. Surprisingly the SRC9 has come up with the highest score.

  7. SR9c. My first gun. Still carry it (after selling the Nano). Appendix with the 17-rd mag, in a N8^2 Holster.

  8. It’s interesting to me that the revolver gets more attention. Is it a “so you think you’re a cowboy?” thing?

    I mean I get the “pro” side. That is a work of art.

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