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Warren Buffet is well-known for his advice to “invest in what you know.” A similar philosophy led to my choice in a carry gun — I carry what I know . . .

My first gun was a Beretta 92FS. I bought it for two simple reasons. The first was because I liked the virtual version of that firearm in Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas, and I wanted to see if I was any good with a real one. The second was because I didn’t really get the whole Second Amendment thing. For me that was a good reason to exercise my rights: because I could. To see what I could learn from the experience.

As a gun noob I really wasn’t comfortable with the idea of carry. Shooting at a range or plinking in the desert was one thing, but toting around a hidden gun? That was scary. Maybe even a little creepy. After all, I didn’t grow up around guns–I found my own way to them. I had never felt unsafe without one. The idea of walking around with a loaded handgun was profoundly unsettling and seemed completely unnecessary.

What I hadn’t yet realized was that my awesome new Beretta had made me a Gun Owner. Like it or not, I had thrown myself into a world of politics I knew next to nothing about, and I had unintentionally chosen a side. As that fact dawned on me I felt the weight of the wise words of Spiderman’s Uncle Ben: “with great power comes great responsibility.” I realized the Second Amendment wasn’t written just so I could punch holes in paper. So, I set out to become more proficient with my firearms. I practiced shooting, and I became familiar with gun laws.

In late 2012 I was at The Crossroads of the West Gun Show in Phoenix when my carry gun found me. I wasn’t exactly looking for a carry gun, but among the many tables I discovered a brand new PX4 Storm Compact in .40 at just over four bills. Beretta was running a rebate at the time that dropped that price by another $50. I had been flirting recently with the idea of a full-size Storm in .45, but I couldn’t pass up the smaller Beretta at that price.

I didn’t really want a .40, but then again I didn’t have anything in .40. I liked the rotating bolt idea, and figured that might tame some of the “snappiness” that .40S&W is known for. What really sealed the deal was the fact that the Storm had the same safety and DA/SA action as my 92. It’s the setup I knew best, and the combination of safety and DA pull made me feel better about the idea of carrying the PX4.

I resolved to get my concealed carry permit. I found a local gun shop that offered a discount on a concealed carry course for anyone attending their basic pistols course. My wife had just purchased her first gun at the same show, so the basic course seemed like a perfect thing to do as a couple. It was. And despite having several years of gun ownership under my belt by that time I learned a few things.

Then Sandy Hook happened. The ensuing panic meant that I couldn’t get into a concealed carry course, because they were all either canceled or hopelessly overbooked. Somewhere along the way I decided I was better off skipping the permit and supporting constitutional carry by exercising it.

Meanwhile, my personal quest to “do something” led me to TTAG, and my firearms self-education really took off. I learned how lame the Uncle Mike’s holsters I had purchased were, so I picked up a most excellent leather and Kydex rig by SHTF Gear (and a couple stout belts) to replace them. I bought a bunch of extra magazines. Then one day I did a dry-run, carrying my empty Beretta concealed through Wal-Mart to get over the jitters and self-consciousness of first-time carry. Over time I’ve settled into carrying and now it feels natural.

I’ve worn the SHTF Gear holster through a couple summers, and I’m still amazed that even in 115 degrees it is surprisingly comfortable. I also snagged the nifty little Beretta-branded pistol rug for those times I temporarily disarm for our Force-of-Law “No Guns” signs. I carry HPR Hyperclean ammo because, well, it’s locally made and it looks good. Until relatively recently I’ve seen little information on ballistics performance of defense rounds in .40 caliber. ShootingTheBull liked the HPR’s in .380. Seems legit?

I no longer think twice about carrying one-in-the-pipe, and thanks to trigger discipline the Beretta’s manual safety seems a bit superfluous these days. I could graduate to a new carry gun, but I won’t. Not yet. I’m still happy carrying what I know.

(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. I’ve got a 92fs and my wife carries a PX4 subcompact. Some people don’t like the slide mounted safety but I prefer it being up and out of the way. Accurate, durable and they just don’t malfunction, ever.

    Looks like the HPR ammo is a bit on the light side for .40 (according to the ballistics page on the link), which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it makes the smaller weapon controllable. But if you want a little more juice there’s plenty of options.

    • I like the feel of the 92’s, but I legitimately have engaged the safety flubbing a reload once and it scared me, I have to do frame mounted, so CZ’s work well for me.

      • Probably the biggest problem with the slide mounted safety is the fact that it’s hard to work the slide from the back without flipping the lever down. The slide serrations aren’t aggressive enough. Personally I usually rack the slide from the front using the swooped part of the slide. This works great as long as your fingers aren’t sweaty. If they are you might as well just flip the lever down and use the safety because there’s no other way to get a grip on that slide with sweaty mitts. They’ve brought back the G (decock only) model but I’m not sure if works any better.

        • I would consider a Beretta decock only. Once I get my new gamer rig and back up finalized, I might start kicking tires on stealing a deal on a Brigadier.

        • I’m not sure but I think the only one with decock only is the G model which is otherwise identical to the FS. If I were buying one now I’d probably go for the G but I’m more of a revolver guy anymore and the FS mostly just sits in the safe waiting for the zombies to come out so it’s not worth trading off.

        • Conversion from a “F” model to a “G” model only requires a punch and the removal of one spring and detent ball. That is all that is needed on the PX4. However, you can also purchase from Beretta the “G” decocker, which is the same as the “F” model but without the huge wings on the safety lever. They are basically flush fit with the slide. With the detent ball and spring removed, the safety just springs back to the “fire” position instead of staying in the safe position. Many youtube videos on how to do this. Swapped mine in about 1 hour with the wrong tools. With the right tools, its even easier. Do it and never look back.

    • Of all the things I’ve learned about guns and shooting since I started down this path, terminal ballistics has been the most surprising. It’s bad enough trying to make sense of the whole 9 / .40 / .45 debate, but then you discover that even within a caliber results vary by projectile and load.

      It all makes sense in hindsight, but wading through that discovery process is cumbersome. I really appreciate the work folks like ShootingTheBull410 and others have done to test different defensive cartridges to help make sense of what’s out there.

      Thanks for the heads-up on HPR being a light load. I really have no idea how it performs in gel or whether it’s a decent defensive load or not. At some point I’ll probably put in the effort to figure out what’s ideal and make a switch if that makes sense. In the meantime I’ll stick with HPR until I shoot up my supply.

      • Yes, you kind of have to be a ballistics junkie to figure it all out. And there can be drastic differences in muzzle energy from one round to another within a particular caliber, even from the same manufacturer. When it comes to revolver rounds they don’t even use the same barrel lengths. I wouldn’t be too concerned though, your HPRs will do fine if they’re needed. When you start running low buy a few different loads and see what you like best.

  2. The wizard of Omaha, Warren Buffet is a POS who made his $ using other people’s money to get in on an otherwise extremely closed investment market, and that is tax-free municipal bond market. We could all do that if we had others to ‘stake’ us for millions to billions of dollars in minimum buy-in, and my investment advice would be the same.

    THAT BEING SAID, L O V E that Beretta, don’t know why, don’t care, own/owned others, love my 96 version in .40 S&W because it is so snappy. Seriously, I am permanently stuck on alloy frames and hammers.

    Like the way the ‘Storms’ function/shoot just want alloy frame and hammer, and see someone carry it in the desert for a few years, put a few hundred thousand rounds through it, drop it 100′ from a helicopter and do it again.

  3. Ko like Beretta products and once considered the Storm compact until I looked at the dimensions. It is a big ass gun with a short barrel. I think the subcompact is a better carry piece.

    • The subcompact doesn’t feature the rotating bolt, which was a minor factor (along with capacity) in going with the compact. And, for me at least, the chunkiness of the PX4 is nice. Living in AZ, printing a little here or there doesn’t concern me so much, but I really like carrying a gun that gives me a solid, confident grip.

      • Also, the width stays the same between models, 1.4 all around , height wise, you’re giving up .2 inches, 4.8 to 5

  4. I carry one myself for similar reasons to the author, I started on an m9 for work and wanted something that was easier to conceal. I’ve carried it for almost a year and so far have no complaints. I’ve found size wise, it hits a similar sweet spot to guns such as the glock 19, plenty of firepower, but small enough for every day carry. I started a job as a security guard a few months ago and it works out nicely, I can take it out of my waistband, slip it into a duty belt and be ready for work.

    As an aside, Ernest Langdon has apparently been doing some impressive work customizing his, it’s worth checking out.

  5. Looks like some nice carry guns, and a well-written article.

    I’d just add my unsolicited advice on self defense ammo: go with what works, and what has been extensively tested. My #1 and #2 choices are Federal HST (9mm 124 grain +P)and Winchester Ranger (RA40T 180 grain). I know that those rounds have tested well through a variety of different barriers. The HPR hasn’t been as extensively tested, at least not that I’ve seen, and didn’t do that well in this 9mm test:

    I would shoot HST exclusively except the Ranger is our work load and also happens to shoot more tightly POA to POI in my Smith and Glock .40’s. Winchester PDX, Hornady Critical Duty and Speer Gold Dot are also some pretty nice JHP’s.

    Anyways, my $.02 and a sweet post.

    • My most recent defensive ammo purchase was a pile of 9mm HST’s for my wife’s Shield. If I had a nickel for every time STB used the word “perfect” in his reviews they’d have been free, lol.

      While there’s plenty of info online on 9mm performance, I’ve had a harder time finding good info on .40 gel tests. I’m waiting on the .40 S&W Ammo Quest, it seems.

      Lucky Gunner just recently published some good data:

      Those tests were performed with a Glock 27 (4.17″ barrel), while my PX4 has a 3.27″ barrel. The HST’s over-penetrated a bit, but they penetrated and expanded consistently (as always, it seems).

      Poking around tonight I just found another video from MrGunsnGear shooting some popular defensive rounds from the .40S&W Shield, which has a 3.1″ barrel. HST and Gold Dots both performed well in bare gel. Based on that, I think those two will be at the top of my list when I shop for new ammo. Wonder if anyone has cyber-week sales.

  6. Great decision. I carry the Px4 compact in 9mm. I did the “home made” type G conversion because the only thing I DON’T like was the action of the manual safety. Plus I installed the incredibly convoluted +3 mag extension from Beretta so I get to have 19 rounds of 147gr +p HST’s on me at all times. Plus the Px4 is wonderful for southpaws like me.

  7. Very nice article and even though this is over a year old..
    Things have not changed much.
    I just recently purchased the PX4 Strorm .40 cal and can’t wait for it to arrive!

  8. Is the new PX4 compact carry version available yet? Love my Walther PPQ 5″ but can’t conceal it. Shot the PX4 at the range and love the accuracy, feel and low “felt” recoil. Confident the new Beretta will be my first CCW.

  9. Have been a glock guy forever thinking of trying one of the PX 4. Never owned a pistol with safety, and always carry in condition 1 all the time. Will go check one out soon and see if I like it.

    paris TN
    Land of the free

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