Previous Post
Next Post

Wilson Combat X-TAC Commander 1911, Smith & Wesson 686, GLCOK 19 and SIG SAUER P229 Legion Series (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

I’m fortunate enough to have a wide choice of handguns to carry on January 1 when Texas “allows” licensed open carry. I’ve narrowed my choice to four models [left to right, top to bottom, as above]: a Wilson Combat X-TAC Commander 1911, a Smith & Wesson 686, a GLOCK 19 and SIG SAUER P229 Legion Series. Here’s my thinking . . .

I like the added security of open carrying in a Level II retention holster. While I don’t anticipate a gun grab, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! I’ve got retention holsters for the Wilson (Safariland), SIG (511 Bladetech) and GLOCK (Blackhawk). I’ve practiced drawing my guns from the various systems; I’m not worried about quick presentation.

I’m really accurate with the Wilson Combat X-TAC Commander-sized 1911. If I want to hit a bad guy amongst a group of friendlies, the 1911 is my go-to gat. (Yes, I know: it’s easier said than done even in “ideal” circumstances.) The X-TAC is a .45 caliber pistol – the best choice to destroy a man’s body and soul with a single bullet. Which is just as well, given that it only carries eight rounds. Plus seven more in my pocket, necessitating a reload (obvs).

While I’m not quite as accurate with the SIG SAUER P229 as I am with Bill Wilson’s meisterwerk, the Legion Series version is the double- or triple-tap king. With that short reset trigger it’s BANG BANG BANG! Three rounds in more of less the same hole at seven yards (understanding that it’s not so easy when bad guys are shooting at you and you’re moving). There’s plenty of on-board ammo for the job: 16 rounds plus another 15 in my pocket. If I want to throw a lot of lead downrange, or take on multiple bad guys, the SIG is it.

The GLOCK 19 is a GLOCK: steadfast and true. With the Ghost trigger mod it’s even better. I’ve shot more rounds with this gun than any other. I’m confident carrying it – knowing that I’m not as accurate with Gaston’s gat as I am shooting the Wilson, or as quick as I am with the SIG. On the positive side, the GLOCK is the only one of my guns equipped with night sites.

And now the Smith & Wesson 686 . . .

That, my friends, is a gun. I’m not talking about capacity or accuracy. I feed the big ol’ six-shooter .357 hollow-points. While the round has terrific terminal ballistics it makes accurate rapid fire nigh on impossible. Accurate slow fire, yes, even when shot double action. But double-taps and fast reloads under stress are beyond the realm of possibility – unless you’re Jerry Miculek and the rules of physics don’t apply. Anyway, I’m talking about appearances.

The Wilson Combat X-TAC, SAUER P229 and GLOCK 19 are easy to ignore. If I carried any one of those black guns outside-the-waistband in a normal holster – instead of a retention holster that sticks out like a raven-haired vixen in a Swedish cafe – the pistols would be invisible to gun muggles. The Smith, not so much. Not at all. And that’s a good thing!

I’m open carrying for two reasons. First, gun normalization. I want non-gun people to see that “normal people” carry guns for self-protection – and nothing happens! Second, deterrence. Even half-covered by its pedestrian Fobus holster, the shiny Smith makes its presence known. Equally, people understand revolvers. They know what they are and what they do. Good people (normalization) and bad people (deterrence) see the 686 and think “gun.”

So I’m leaning towards open carrying the Smith & Wesson 686, at least to start. The only retention holsters I can find for the beast involve a leather strap; the one system with which I’m not comfortable. And anyway, my anti-gun grab situational awareness is going to be pretty damn high for the first few weeks (which I’ll chronicle here). Your thoughts?

NOTE: Jon Wayne Taylor’s taking possession of the SIG SAUER P229 Legion Series (I owe him a gun). But another one’s coming. FWIW.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. Something you don’t care about getting scuffed up. You’ll probably be bumping stuff all the time. I do it with my CC gun all the time.

  2. SAA in .45 colt. If your gonna go, go BIG. If your worried about capaticy or shot/reload speed why not a G18? with 3 32 round mags in your belt.

  3. Revolver or Wilson.

    I’ll be in Austin on the 5th! Thinking about bringing a pistolo myself so I can join in the open carry shenanigans. Not sure the wife will go for it though haha.

      • It used to be. It still has its moments, but its gone downhill fast in the last decade+. The Chief of Police, the Mayor, useless toll roads because Dell wanted them, the too-little-too-late public trans system that will cost the residents boatloads, and the huge influx of lefty Kalifornia Kommunists for starters.

        • Ah yes. The plague of Kommie Kalifornicators.

          Just like a plague of locusts. They devastate the land in one area, then they move on to the next rich area, to repeat the same process of devestation.

      • @Tex300 — the wife thinks we should move there. So this is a bit of an exploratory visit to see what we think. I’m very happy where we’re at, but with most of the TTAG crew in or near the Austin area that’s certainly a big entry on the “plus” side for me. We’ll see how it shakes down. Moving is expensive and Austin is a lot more expensive than where we’re at now, so I’m not entirely sure it’s even financially feasible or advisable.

    • I’d say get some Eagle or Hogue wood grips for the 686 and nice leather holster. Maybe something classic like from EP Saddlery.

      • I vote 686. And yes, it needs a good leather holster. One worthy of the cannon it contains.

        I plan to carry a Hi-Power this Friday, although I will almost never open carry, I will Jan. 1. (I don’t currently own a good full size revolver, or I would choose it instead.)

  4. Since you aren’t concealing then bigger is always better so none of the above. I would go with a standard 1911 or an XD tactical.

    • I agree. Don’t you have a full size 1911 which would slide into that same holster? Can’t Wilson get one to you in time?

    • Having had more time to think about it, I agree with tdiinva on a full-size 1911. And you might as well pimp it with pearl grip panels or something like that.

      And use one of the ever so slightly extended magazines that hold 8 rounds and carry two of the 10 round extended magazines for backup. (Again, concealing is unimportant.) Thus you have 8 + 1 in the handgun and two more 10 round magazines on your belt. If you cannot take care of business with 29 rounds of .45 ACP 230 grain hollowpoints, you probably would not have fared any better with 52 rounds out of a wonder 9mm.

        • The 10 round magazines are fine once the pistol is in your hand. On your hip, however, they stick out too far and would tend to snag on anything and everything … not to mention that they would make it difficult to sit down in a chair, car, etc.

    • If history is your goal then why not a SAA in .45 LC, or a luger or a hi-power or a broom handle Mauser or a flintlock dueling pistol?

    • I agree with the 686 for OC, but I really think plastic is the wrong material for it in this context. Get a leather belt holster with a retention strap. And then make sure to have something concealed, too.

      • Nah… A Desert Eagle says I have compensation issues. A big revolver says I’m confident enough that a fast reload will be unnecessary. A Pietta 1851 .44 Navy says…”dyin ain’t no way to make a livin…”

        • Making a ’51 in .44 is sacrilege. Colt only made it in .36. If you want a .44, get an 1860 (and for gosh sakes, not a brassie). (Nothing against Pietta, mind you, I have three of them.)

    • I’m mostly with you on this one. I currently only have a retention holster for my G19 so that’s what I’ve open carried the 2 times I had the guts. But my new 6″ 686+ (7 rounds) is just begging for a nice leather holster. That will be my choice once I find the right ride!

  5. “I’m really accurate with the Wilson Combat X-TAC Commander-sized 1911.”

    There’s your answer. Carry what you shoot best, whether concealed or open.

    • I agree. But I would ditch those 7 rounders for 8 round McCormicks, which do not extend below the frame. For the same reason the Glock is out–if you can’t hit anything with it, it does not matter how many rounds you have. And on a personal note, Glocks are SOOO ugly I wouldn’t be caught dead open carrying one (unless I had to).

  6. The revolver is less likely to evoke the “OHMYGAWDITSAMASSMURDERERWITHAGUN!” response. There’s only six rounds, so its not thought of as the usual go-to for terrorists and psychopaths. Not saying it never happened before, but we are talking appearances and psychology here. In this neck of the woods, I open carry a revolver when hunting and it’s easily explained as defense against animals. By animals they think bears while I think thugs. No matter. I believe the revolver is the key to normalizing guns in public. What the sheeple don’t know is the semi-auto concealed with 45 rounds on board that they’ll never be the wiser to.

    • I have to agree people don’t seem to freak over a revolver as much as a semi auto pistol. Open Carry org. is having an OC celebration march up Congress to the Capitol January 1 st. starting@ high noon – plan on wearing GP100 WC version in craved bear paw leather holster & LCR 38 in my pocket.

  7. For making a statement, definitely the Smith. Big, and much more noticeable than a black gun. Once the novelty wears off, go back to the Wilson. Understated enough to not draw too much attention, and has one extra layer of protection against a gun grab if the grabber gets lucky and gets past the level 2 retention since most people wouldn’t innately sweep the safety off. Also, any POTG that check you out would go “Dayumm..”

  8. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. That big 686 revolver is noticeable and it isn’t all scary black and “tactical.” If it scares the muggles in Texas, then Texas isn’t Texas anymore.

    Put some pretty grips on that bad boy and show the rubes some class.

    • Not fair, Tom, he doesn’t HAVE a Python, it was not a choice. Still, that would clearly be best. RF, can you get a Python by day after tomorrow?

        • A LGS has a NIB python that is absolutely beautiful! If you have enough money for a used car you may be able to afford it, I do not.

  9. 99.99999999999999999% of the time (or thereabouts), capacity, double taps, and accuracy do not matter.

    What matters is “God f*ck I just bumped into a doorframe again” or “Holy sh*t I didn’t realize my holster was that uncomfortable while driving” or even “F**********ck my holster wore a hole in my car seat.”

    Almost all the time, that’s the stuff that matters when you open carry.

    • +1 Even concealed OWB, the way I usually carry, smacking those door frames is a pita. The other one is, concealed or not, the gun is still just as heavy. Another favorite, at my dining table it’s clear which chair is mine, it’s the one with the finish beaten off the uprights on the right side lumbar area. (Took me 20 years to figure out why my grandmother insisted that you remove your gun before eating, she was worried about the furniture!)

  10. Please take the GLOCK brand GLOCK off your short list. Its ugly, menacing, boring, and dare-I-say cheap looking. And its ugly. If you’re looking to normalize guns and you’re not a cop, that’s the worst choice. Did I mention it’s ugly? If you like the night sights, can’t you get them on the Wilson or the Sig? U-G-L-Y!

  11. I assume the Glock is the least expensive handgun of those four: I would carry that one. If the police hassle you and decide to confiscate it, you are only out $500.

    From an activism standpoint, I like the S&W 686 revolver for the reasons that Mr. Farago stated in the article.

    • I do understand your point about uneducated cops hassling the innocent and who wants to lose a nice gun. However, if the local po-po decide to strap on their jackboots, the $300 difference in cost from the GLOCK to the S&W will be the least of your worries. S&W will make more.

      I believe the exercise in open-carrying is to educate the public (and the cops). The least threatening gun is probably the best option IMHO. If I open carry for education, I simultaneously carry a serious weapon concealed for serious self defense. If a police throwdown is likely in your area, you may want to open carry first around the edges of the liberal strongholds before you march down main street.

    • I’m incredibly surprised not one person in this thread has bitched and moaned about open carry. On a daily basis I still see other POTG making snarky comments about open carry not being “tactical” or “necessary”, and lots of disparaging comments about people being “shot first”. It irritates me to no end that they are still droning on about this like sore losers, especially because it was another victory for all POTG.

      While I don’t plan on OC’ing often, I do value having the option. I especially love the idea of people who don’t fit the OFWG image OC’ing as well!

    • Or in summary: “The 686 for show, the Glock 19 for ‘go'”.
      I know I’m paraphrasing from ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’. I can’t say “the Glock 19 for a pro” because I’m not a pro. Besides, ‘for go’ has a charm all its own. ?

  12. I have to vote for the 686. Revolvers just give me a ooohh aaahh lookie there sensation. Probably the least practical of the choices but on January first it is a celebration, you need to carry some classy classic wheel gun. After the celebration is over, go back to concealing something polymer on January second.

  13. I’m not against open carry, but I’m not sure I would open carry a $2k handgun. If you ever have to use it, it will be going away for awhile (maybe forever, depending on the CLEO where you live).

  14. What self respecting firearms enthusiast would be caught out in public with a blaster that didn’t have removable grips? You need a more interesting handle for the wheel gun for it to be considered. I’d go with the Sig unless you’re trying to make a statement, then the WC, but you might look at some more flashy grips.

  15. Clearly a 686. Stainless revolvers are there to make a point.

    However, you should consider the passing of open carry as an opportunity to get a long slide 1911. Not just standard, but long slide. You’ll always have your x-tac for running around concealed if you need, but a long slide 1911 is the only other semiauto that makes the same statement as a revolver.

    Plus you can practice repeating, “1911 long slide with laser sight” in an austrian accent.

  16. I’ll give you my 2 bits – Sig P320 (Pick a caliber) with Advantage Tactical Sights. Safariland ALS holster. My current carry gun and I love it

  17. Take the biggest thing you can carry. You’re making a statement at the event, you want it to be seen. Otherwise, take the revolver.

  18. I’m incredibly surprised not one person in this thread has bitched and moaned about open carry. On a daily basis I still see other POTG making snarky comments about open carry not being “tactical” or “necessary”, and lots of disparaging comments about people being “shot first”. It irritates me to no end that they are still droning on about this like sore losers, especially because it was another victory for all POTG.

    While I don’t plan on OC’ing often, I do value having the option. I especially love the idea of people who don’t fit the OFWG image OC’ing as well!

    • I would love to be able to OC here in MA. It’s legal, but a sure path to a ticket or arrest for disturbing the peace or some other bullsh!t charge. My town is not anti-gun and the local cops are pretty cool but I’d still have a very unpleasant experience.

      • It was this very bad attitude that led to open carry being banned in California, despite the fact that there was not a single violent incident. (It was the same with the new ban on CC in schools–not a single reported incident involving a licensed carrier shooting uy or even disrupting a school, just a bunch of nannies running the school system and the government.)

  19. “Your thoughts?”

    Carry whatever puts a spring in your step, a song in your (alleged) heart, and a smile on your face (unless you have one of those creepy stalker-like smiles that weird women out).

    I.E., the Wilson, obviously…


  20. Submitted my application for an LTC (finally!) mid November, DPS website still says it is pending. My guess is I won’t be carrying anything on January 1st, but if by some miracle the mailman brings me good news today or tomorrow you can bet it will be my Springfield Loaded 1911 (and to think I spent about a month trying to sell it earlier this year, stupid me).

    So I guess you should carry the Wilson so that I can live vicariously 🙂

    • There must have been a crush of applications at the end of the year.

      I felt inspired to do my application at the beginning of October (in Sunday School, on my phone, which I felt a little weird about), class a week later, fingerprints two weeks after that. Got my permit 18 days, or whatever the claimed minimum is, later.

      Point being, keep an eye out. You may just get it tomorrow.

  21. I’d say that you should carry the best cheap gun you are effective with that you won’t mind getting bumped around and possibly sitting in impound from here to eternity if it ever has to be put to use.

  22. I’d like to know WHERE you’re going to OC! I had big plans for an outing to HEB with my Colt Vietnam Special Edition, one of 200, gold inlaid and all, but I can’t go to HEB or Randall’s due to 30.07, I understand, maybe a walk in the park, but that seems stupid, and its cold out!

  23. WAIT! Wait! You said that you were SELLING your 686, because of the internal lock issue. What happened? Did you get a pre-lock version?

    I’d make it a special occasion and purchase a Smith & Wesson Model 69 😉

    • My 686 was purchased in San Antonio in 1986, pre-lock, but I did see a YouTube video with complete instructions on how to remove the lock on more recent pistols. Since the lock seems to be a lawyer invention and apparently has nothing to do with the actual function of the gun other than including the one thing that can possibly cause a mechanical malfunction on a revolver, I think dumping it would be a fine idea.

      I vote for the Big 686, not just because I have one and love it, but because it does make a statement every time you wear it and this open carry business is all about making that statement to the muggles. I have NEVER worn Mr. 686 anywhere that I didn’t spend a lot of time talking to people, mostly strangers, about it. This is a pistol that gets noticed and the interest is usually favorable.

      Oh, and you might notice that Jayn Galt, my avatar, is carrying Mr. 686 in a Hollywood Cowboy drop holster.

      • I removed the locks on all my Smiths. Five minutes, done, and there’s no hole in the frame. The only thing that’s removed is the small internal latch.

  24. From the Killeen Texas Police departments Q/A about Open carry..
    If you are walking down a street, and an officer approaches you, is it a voluntary encounter, or at this point am I “detained”?
    Technically, you are temporarily detained so that the officer can check your license and make sure that you are legally able to carry a handgun.
    They must of missed the whole Fourth Amendment. The future YouTube videos of Texas officers acting like JackAsses and the lawsuits that will follow, will be funny and saddening to watch.

    • Holy moly, those guys are just itching for a lawsuit, aren’t they? Like, announcing their intention to “detain” someone without any reason to believe that person is involved in criminal activity. Hope TSRA NRA SAF etc are gearing up for this…

  25. I have a 1916 .455 Webley (Cannook Mountie w/laynard ring)with pearl grips in a period oil/wax leather flap holster with overhand sticth accents(field mod holster) that would win the super pimp contest hands down. 🙂 I need to see if fobus makes a holster….lol

  26. My answer depends on what you personal goal is for open carry.

    Going for style – the 686 for all the reasons already listed.

    Going for Normalization – The Glock.

    Think of yourself as being a ambasstor for POTG. Alot of non gun people can’t tell the difference between any black semi automatic pistol. The Glock brand Glock will get people use to seeing black pistols (ie non Glock brand Glocks) on every ones hips. Once they are use to it the fear will go away. You may get questions. You may influence people to visit there local gun shop. Every shop will have a Glock to show the curious, and endless assortment of other guns to hold and decide….which gun will be the one I am taking home.

    But thats my opinion… I could be wrong 🙂

  27. 686 because style counts. I like the look and feel of my SP101 in a leather holster. You will have plenty of time to rotate through the others.

  28. What would make a helluva statement, a “Resident Evil” style statement, is my KRISS Vector.

    Alas, nobody I know of makes a holster for it, and a sling isn’t legal for open carry.

  29. Wheel gun. Not even the muggles will mistake it for an “assault pistol”. If “normalization” is your game, that’s where to start.

  30. I would go with the 686. The reasons have already been enumerated on this thread in several places.

    Basically, it comes down to this: It’s a classier gun that isn’t associated with thugs and gangsters.

  31. I’d initially carry any one of the “pretty” guns – starting with the 686. After that I’d switch to the GLOCK. You can bang into door frames, crash into walls, spill coffee on it…and it still won’t get any more ugly.

    • Hell spilling coffee on a Glock might make it less ugly. which makes me wonder if anyone offers a coffee or mocha color cerakote.

  32. On most days I will continue to conceal. On the 1st however, I’m thinking my engraved S&W Model 29 or a Ruger Bisley Hunter in .44mag with a 7 1/2″ barrel.

  33. Please get a Bravo Concealment or similar kydex rig vs the others you have listed. It’s much more comfortable to carry a full sized pistol or a subcompact. I carry my G26 and G17 in the same holster depending on how much gun I need to conceal or not.

  34. I OC a Kimber TLE/RL 1911 with a .460 Rowland barrel replacement to get my .44 mag ballistic equivalent or my Sig Sauer 10mm Elite because they both have a cocked and locked condition that needs to be disengaged before firing.

    They both are supremely accurate and reliable and if the worse case scenario happens where the pistol has been wrestled from me in a melee, there is another layer of activation before the gun can be used against me if my level 2 retention holster wasn’t enough.

    That is not the case with a revolver or a Glock. They are just point and shoot.

    As for normilization? For most people not of the POTG, a pistol is just a pistol, especially when in a holster. Any pistol will do in the process of normilization.

  35. It’s “Texas” so there’s only three that would be appropriate, preferably the Remington Model 1858 .44 with 5 1/2″ barrel, a Model 1851 Confederate Navy .44 with a 4 7/8″ barrel or if you really want to make a statement, an 1860 Army .44 with 8″ barrel, of course a couple of extra loaded cylinders on your holster belt are a “must”.

    “You gotta get mean, plumb ‘mad dog’ mean.”

    “Gone to Texas”

  36. Sometime these posts read more like an 18 year old girl asking her friends which purse she should take to the club. Guns as accessories, smh…

  37. Putting it delicately: Your the Head Burrito In Charge (HBIC) of TTAG….You’re taking the wrong approach. You need to go big, very big. Right now, you can’t…..Your holster choices suck. This is Texas. You need a fine tooled leather gun-belt along with a highly decorated holster. You have 2 choices for what goes into the holster. The Wilson- because it’s a 1911. Or you get a SAA Colt and go old school……Otherwise, you need to continue to carry concealed.

    Personally, I’m thinking of packing my Wilson Compact Carry,a Commander sized 1911 in 9mm, or my Wilson-Beretta Centurion, or my other Commander in 45. The question is, do I rock the Patton Holster from El Paso Saddlery, or do I stay with a more modern hip hugging belt holster.

  38. I OC a 629 so you can probably guess my answer. Go with the revolver…but ditch that fugly holster and get some leather.

  39. You have already admitted that you can’t shoot the 686 very well. That means it’s only good for show. What will you do if you actually need to shoot a bad guy? If you must carry the 686, I suggest you copy one western sheriff. (It might have been Skeeter Skelton.) He related carrying a .44 mag revolver openly and a PPK in his waistband beneath his shirt. The .44, which was unloaded, was there to intimidate potential trouble makers. The PPK was for actual shooting.

  40. I’d go with the SIG if ammo capacity is important to you; with the 686 otherwise. (I like revolvers.)

    “First, gun normalization. I want non-gun people to see that “normal people” carry guns for self-protection – and nothing happens! Second, deterrence. Even half-covered by its pedestrian Fobus holster, the shiny Smith makes its presence known.”

    You might be surprised. I spent time in Arizona way back when, and AZ has had legal open carry for quite awhile.

    If you’re not going all Mall Ninja in camo and body armor with a drop leg holster and a slung AR-15 out “freaking the mundanes”, which it sounds like you’re not, a regular handgun on the belt in a relatively unobtrusive holster doesn’t always attract that much attention unless people are specifically watching for it – and they’re generally not.

    I was in Phoenix for a Con once, and while eating at a restaurant, had to point out to the friend I was with that several people were carrying openly there. He’d glanced around and just skipped over and not noticed the revolvers and 1911s they were carrying casually on their belts in perfectly unobtrusive Safariland and Bianchi holsters.

    A lot of people don’t notice unless you’re doing something to call attention to it.

    I’d suggest home carrying open for awhile to get used to having the pistol on your belt until you’re no longer self conscious about it, so that you *don’t* constantly call attention to it.

    All in all, that’s the best way to normalize carry: just carry casually while not making a big deal of it, and not calling attention to it, until people gradually get used to seeing guns on hips or waistbands to the point where it no longer registers on them as unusual.

  41. I would go for the Wilson or the Smith, because both are dressy guns that make the statement that you are not a threat. Think ‘bar-b-que’ guns. And I would definitely go shopping for a fine leather holster. There is nothing evil or threatening about a beautiful custom holster. Further, a well made holster (other than for SAAs) keep the gun high and tight, making a grab a difficult proposition.

  42. Concealed carry what you would rely on to save your life – to me that sounds like the 229. If you want to get noticed, draw a big red arrow on a cheap t shirt.

  43. Well there’s exactly zero losers, there, Boss. I’d be happy with any of those.

    I think if your main goal is normalization, though, the wheelgun is the winner. It’s artful and speaks to a man who isn’t so much carrying to shoot people, but to thoughtfully protect his life.

    Obviously that’s a giant load, but I feel like it’s an accurate perception of the zeitgeist.

    FWIW, I’d think about throwing some standard-ish looking wood grips on there to enhance that folksy charm a little.

  44. I’d say go with the Glock. Or whatever you feel you can shoot the best.

    To be honest I never felt Austin was that dangerous of a town. It was slightly shady but I never felt terribly threatened even walking at night. Just avoid going into wooded lots.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here