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A lot of folks out there subscribe to the theory that one should just have one carry gun that he or she becomes extremely proficient with, in order to create muscle memory and try to maximize your chances of success in a gunfight. While I agree that it is a sound practice, it is not a philosophy that I personally follow. I carry a rotation of three different firearms, both while I am on duty as a police officer and in my free time . . .

Gen 4 GLOCK 22 .40 S&W

As my department issues the GLOCK 22 as our service pistol, I carry this at work every day and have no choice in the matter. I personally prefer the 17 over the 22, but that’s a subject for another time. It’s carried on duty in a Safariland level III retention holster.

When it comes to concealed carry, the G22 isn’t the first gun that people typically run to, as it’s a big honkin’ piece of metal. Since June, however, I have lost 35 pounds and now have a surplus of baggy fat jeans and shirts, which enables me to slip the 22 into a Comp-Tac kydex holster and carry the 22 in relative comfort. My reasons for carrying the 22 on a regular basis are threefold.

First, I’m lucky to work for a department that actually places a high importance on firearms training, and as such I have had extensive trigger time on the 22 and am a good shot with it, despite what some would claim is a handicap of being a police officer. Second, 15+1 rounds of .40 caliber Remington Golden Sabers is nothing to sneeze at. Lastly, if I have to use the gun to fire at someone off duty, the gun will be held as evidence and I will receive a new one from my department after the investigation is over. Perk of the job, I suppose.

Ruger LCR .357 Magnum

My backup gun that I carry on my ankle in a Galco ankle holster is a Ruger LCR chambered in .357 magnum. I carry Speer Gold Dot 135 grain .357 Magnum short barrel loads. The gun is light and doesn’t hinder my movement or speed in any way, and nearly disappears on my ankle.

I know that many reading this will question my decision to carry a snub nosed revolver instead of a GLOCK 27. “Magazine compatibility!” is the rallying cry of the dozens of co-workers I have who carry it. My rebuttal is that the 27 is a tad too heavy and clunky to comfortably carry on an ankle for 12 hours a day. Also, for many it creates a mindset of transitioning to the secondary in the event of a malfunction. I asked many of my colleagues who carry the 27 what they would do in the event of a stage 1 or 2 malfunction with the 22, and most replied transition to the 27. The issue with that is it’s generally quicker to fix a malfunction than to re-holster and go for another gun.

From several training classes I have taken, including an FBI course on law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, I have learned that many police back up guns are used during physical struggles when the primary weapon has either been taken from the officer or the officer is being strangled and primary the weapon is inaccessible. For this role, five rounds of .357 should do the trick nicely, and there’s no danger of the gun going out of battery in the event of a contact shot. I rarely carry it off duty, but sometimes when I’m lazy I slip it into a jeans pocket and am on my way.

Smith and Wesson Shield 9mm

The third gun in my rotation is a Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm, with no thumb safety and tritium night sights. Despite the appeal of being able to have my G22 replaced for free in the event of a shooting, the Shield is still my primary EDC. It’s a sub-compact that’s easy and even enjoyable to shoot, easy to carry, has a decent magazine capacity, and has a manual of arms similar enough to GLOCK that my training transitions over. In short, I have found it to be my perfect concealed carry pistol, though there are many other fine firearms that might work better for you.

I don’t carry it on my person at work, but I do leave it accessible in my seat bag in the passenger seat. On the off chance that I’m ambushed and can’t exit my vehicle (a la GET OFF THE X), it’s quicker to pull the Shield out than to draw the 22 from a seated position.

This is just my personal set up. As with anything, YMMV. Find what works for you and stick with it. It took me five years to get my carry set up situated just the way I like. Stay safe out there.


(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. Enjoyed the thoughts/reasoning.
    I also carried a spare Glock in my soft bag strapped in on the passenger seat.
    Drawing while seat belted is very difficult.

  2. Somewhat off topic:

    What would police say to a heavy service weapon? Is weight really that important? My new carry gun is 100% heavier than my old one, and the weight doesn’t bother me but I drive a desk. LEO’s, what say you? Would you carry a steel gun you shot better than the plastic guns that are generally offered as service weapons?

    • With my first department when part time, I carried a Sig229, personally owned. With my full time department, it’s a department issued Glock21. I can fire both very well, but on my 21, I have a light attached to it making them close to the same weight. I prefer the 229 because of the felt recoil, but it had no light attachment. I like the ability of a backup flashlight on the gun.

      Weight does come into play on a service weapon because of all the other tools on the belt. Tip: get suspenders. In the end, as long as it is quality and works when needed, that should be number 1.

    • Back in the 90s we carried the S&W 3rd Gen stainless steel 9mm. Went to another agency in 2003 to present and it was the Sig 229.Now it’s the Sig 220. Chatter is near future maybe Glock 22 Gen 4. My off duty is G20 gen 3 Full size and a SCCY CPX2. Personally I see striker fired taking over the LEO market and the return to 9mm.

    • For patrol I don’t think it matters much. My belt has my 22, 2 sets of handcuffs, a taser, small flashlight, extra magazines and OC spray on it, a couple extra ounces on the gun isn’t really noticeable.

      If I were a detective I would probably rather carry something the size of a 19 than a full size, though.

  3. IL statute law doesn’t allow off-body carry in a bag separate from you unless it’s locked…has to be on-body. Otherwise that would be a good idea when driving.

  4. “A lot of folks out there subscribe to the theory that one should just have one carry gun that he or she becomes extremely proficient with, in order to create muscle memory and try to maximize your chances of success in a gunfight.”

    Or they could subscribe to the theory that they can have kids and want to put through college one day…. And, a mortgage payment, and insurance premiums, and vehicle payments, and they might want to be able to retire, at some point…. Subsequently, they don’t want to go broke on different carry gear, guns, ammo, mags, and all the cools things which we all love but can cost a small fortune, if you don’t show some self-control.

    Count me in the latter group.

  5. Great line-up love the train of thought with each choice and being prepared for all scenarios, as most all of us preach preparedness is more than half the battle. Now you’ve shown how you handle on-duty carry as far as your daily arsenal, now what do you carry for rounds? How many of what and where? I come from an LE family and know quite a few guys who had plenty of full mags in that duty bag, one detective I know carried a department issued Glock 19 with 2 standard mags on his belt, 3 more in his briefcase along with two yes two 33 round sticks lol.

    • I only carry 2 extra mags at work, the standard, bringing my round count for the 22 to 46. I carry 5 extra .357 bringing my total for that for 10.

      The reason I don’t carry more is I have a patrol rifle, a S&W M&P MOE edition, with 100 issued rounds plus 30 more I carry with me, which should be enough to resolve the overwhelming majority of situations I encounter.

      Off duty I carry primarily the Shield with the 7+1 rounds in the gun plus an additional 8 round mag in my pocket, when I carry the 22 I keep an extra 15 rounder in my pocket

      • More than sufficient on all fronts, a few departments here in CT don’t carry rifles in their cars so the extra ammo holds a little more value to them. Having the rifle in each vehicle is a lb invaluable asset for anything that gets harry quick.

  6. Your three choices are all grab and shoot guns, so you don’t have differing manual of arms between them. Where I think people ask for trouble is when they switch on a daily basis between something like a 1911, a Sig, or whatever else has dramatically different operating systems. The Glock and the Shield are quite compatible, and the revolver is the most different but still point-and-shoot. Inevitably we usually need more than one gun to suit all situations, but just rotating for no reason between very different guns is asking for problems. I don’t see that as being the case with your choices.

    • I also adhere to the “grab and shoot” philosophy – Glock 19 and LCR357. I have rented a DA/SA gun but will not buy one. No SAO guns either. Trying to keep it simple cuz I’m stupid, er, wait, that didn’t come out right.

  7. Congrats on the weight loss. And very good read for some thought process from one who is a little more likely than the average reader to need them (we generally avoid bad people and places, police don’t get that option).

    Like you, I don’t have one carry for all cases, but also like you all of them are the same “point and shoot” interface without extra controls to mess up with (though a 1911 is a pretty range gun)


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