Sunday, January 10, 2010

"If this is Tuesday, I must be carrying the Luger..."

Back when I first started CCW'ing seriously, I carried a Glock 23. Usually. Except on those days that I carried my SIG P-228. Or my Colt Detective Special. I even had a shoulder holster to fit my S&W 625.

As years went by, other guns came and went: HK P7s and USPs, Berettas, Browning BDMs, CZ clones... It wasn't until seven years ago or so that I started carrying one gun, a 1911-pattern pistol, in one place, strong-side IWB behind the hip. I also have one backup gun: A short-sight-radius DAO S&W revolver that, in slightly different permutations gets used for purse or pocket or nightstand.

Gradually, the other CCW guns got sold off. Pretty much all my handgun shooting was done with one or the other of those platforms: 1911 or double-action Smith. It's one reason that when I bought a .22 caliber pistol, I went with a 22/45 and when my roommate offers to let me shoot her regular Mk.II or Shootin' Buddy brings a Glock to the range, I'll shoot a magazine or two out of politeness before returning to the familiar shapes and control locations of the guns I shoot the most.

It makes a well-worn groove in the mind that is oddly comforting, that one hard-used tool. As Chris Rhines commented in the recent post at Marko's place:
I don’t worry too much about the man with only one gun – he probably bought that gun for self defense, ran a box of ammo through it, tossed it in the nightstand, and forgot about it. I worry about the guy with two or three identical guns, all of them well-worn.


Anonymous said...

Every time I hear "my CCW rotation" I'm incited to violence.There are so many quality handguns, so much quality ammunition, and so many excellent holster designs on the market today that no one should need a different gun for Tuesdays than Saturdays or a different gun for winter than summer, etc. Will special circumstances come up from time to time? Sure. But for most people most of the time, fewer guns equates to better skill.

Tam said...

What's more embarrassing is looking back at old comments I made at TFL just ten years ago: Things like carrying a revolver or a P7 that day because I was just in a revolver or P7 "mood". It's like having baby pictures with birthday cake smeared all over your face out there for everyone to see.

Carteach said...

When I began CCW, it was with the same set you ended up with. A Commander in .45acp, and a snubby in .38.

I practiced often with both (weekly, monthly at the most) and grew very confident with them.

About four years ago I noticed there were times I just didn't carry the Colt, as weight was a concern. Thus, I succumbed to the plastic and bought an M+P in 9mm.

Why 9mm? Because brass is free.... just pick it up all over the range. I had 3-4000 empties cleaned and ready to be loaded. With new powders and bullets, the 9x19mm is nothing to sneeze at these days.

Now... I have moved to Glock 30 in .45acp. Same light weight as the M+P, same controls, but back to the one true cartridge.

In a way, I reversed your journey. Carry for me is the Glock 30, with the snubby as backup.

Anonymous said...

How many times have you heard, "As you practice, so will you shoot."? Regardless of the specific accuracy of the term "muscle memory", the idea of conditioned reflex and familiarity with the feel of the gun is valid. It reduces the need to waste time thinking about matters which should already be ingrained.


Tam said...

"In a way, I reversed your journey."

I don't think the particular gun is important, so long as it works.

If I had it to do over again, knowing what I know now, I probably would have settled on the G19; cheap guns, cheap ammo, reliable, ubiquitous.

I've thought about trading my stable of 1911s for a pile of used Glock 19s, but at this point I'm basically just too heavily-invested in the platform and the benefits wouldn't outweigh the downsides.

Anonymous said...

I think there is a progression to everyone's experience. Heck, even Jeff Cooper changed his mind about pistols during his youth.

What is funny about my experience is that what I first carried at age 13 became what I carried as an adult. Imprinting or reason--I'll never know.

Shootin' Buddy

B said...

Same here....My carry and home defense firearms are all one platform...1911 pattern. My carry is a 3" Para, my other are full size.

The only non 1911 I carry is a P3-At for "social" situations.

It's not the 1911 that matters (although it is the "One True Gun")...(and all of mine are in the "One True Caliber"), but rather the muscle memory that that one pattern uses and facilitates.

Should you choose (shudder) GLOCK as your pattern, then you again have the same advantage...Same actions, same angle of grip, same everything all across the family....

WV: phyth....the thound thomeone with a lithp makes when thpitting....

Drang said...

A long time ago, in a state (not) far (enough) away, I was talking to a Monterey Park, CA, police officer about guns. (During a week I'm going to have to blog about someday, weird week...)
IIRC, he had a S&W J Frame in an ankle holster, and got to talking about his several handguns, and how he carried them. My colleague made a remark about "Beware the man with one gun...", which Officer Friendly ignored. I was aware of the quotation, of course, but felt at the time that an undercover police officer had a legitimate need for flexibility, and he might, in fact, just like guns, and get enough range time in to be that rare thing, a cop who is a gun nut and works at it...
This was mid-80s, so far as I know, Washington was the only state practicing shall-issue at the time, and concealed carry was a pipe dream of most folks.

Anonymous said...

"Washington was the only state practicing shall-issue at the time"

On the West Coast perhaps.

aczarnowski said...

Everybody that heads down the concealed carry road is going to take a few turns and find a few dead ends along the way. Like anything internalized as valuable, that one true pistol has to be found, not granted.

Hopefully we all make it through any encounter where that gun is needed where ever we happen to be along the road.

Joat said...

I only carry one hand gun, I've been carrying for 2 years and not shooting for very many more than that. At first it was a matter of money I only had one hand gun suitable for self defense, and I only have 2 holsters that I use, one strong side OWB and one IBW when I need to really conceal it. I shoot the same gun for pistol leagues. I've got a 38 snubbie now and I shoot it well enough for defense but I never carry it.

Frank W. James said...

I think to add further definition on the 'Beware...' quotation; I would add; "Beware of the man with 2 or 3 identical handguns, all of which are heavily worn, and the three or more that are safe-queens because they are totally worn-out and exhausted!"

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Anonymous said...

Was it hard to back and forth with the P-7? It is so different from everything else.

The one I shot was very accurate but just too strange for me to consider as a CCW weapon.

I went from a M-11/P-228 to G-19.
I do get the urge to go back to the Sig but it does pass.


Steve said...

I think I arrived at the same point over a different path. Working in IT, standardization of platforms became the mantra a few years back. I drank the Kool Aid and about two years ago thought it was a good idea for carry guns too. Maybe it's maturity, or experience, who knows? Today, for me, it's a Sig P220 carry in the summer and a P226 (full size) in the winter carried in the same holster in the same place on my body. The controls are the same, sight radius is not noticeably different, in short a standard platform. With a .22 conversion, I can practice cheap, and 9mm isn't out of my practice $$ range, so they both get used often.

Moriarty said...

Reminds me of something I read a long time ago...

Select the gun belt and holster, waist belt holster or shoulder holster that suits you and your gun best, and feels most comfortable and permits most accessibility to your gun. Then stay with it both for the .22 and the big service gun.

... but whatever rig you decide as best fitting you and the .22 caliber, should also be used for the big gun so that all practice with the small caliber perfects your draw with the heavy gun.

-- Elmer Keith, "Sixguns" (1955)

(Emphasis mine.)

I carry a 1911-pattern auto for town. Smiths serve as as hot weather CCW and "utility guns" around the place. I have a 1911 with an ancient Ace Conversion and a Model 63 for practice and murdering pests. If there's a better system for me, I've yet to come across it.

I'll admit to changing from a strong-side belt to a shoulder rig when necessary (such as under a heavy coat), but I otherwise try to stay as consistent as possible.

I've had dalliances with many other guns and carry options over the years, but as I grow older, more crotchety and generally less tolerant, this is what has emerged as a strange attractor.

Ian Argent said...

I'm just now dabbling in the gun ownership thing - I took a basic pistol course where the instructor let us play with about 3 or 4 of his guns. I ended up liking the G17L he had brought along - almost certainly because of the slightly longer sight radius, so when I went shopping for my own piece and I saw one in the case, that was what I picked up. The simplicity of operation appeals to me as well (I find all the little fiddly buttons and levers on my wife's P22 to be annoying). I'm not thrilled with the ergonomics - esp since I'm gripping a double stack magwell, but can't legally own a doublestack magazine in the PRNJ.

I'm probably going to get a 1911 some day - probably a Kimber based on both the instructor's and a marine buddy of mine's recommendation, but I figure I'll probably end up with most of my toys being flat-pack black people-poppers, mainly for the reasons here.

Anonymous said...

I'm a big believer that you should carry the same gun, in the same place, as much as possible.

That's what I do personally and that's what I teach my students.

I have upgraded my carry gun once, and I'm contemplating doing so again, but once I pick a carry gun that's my primary gun for 90% of my daily carry.

Currently my set up is a S&W Model 65 carried in a Alessi Talon IWB rig right in front of the right hip. This replaced my EG Makarov which I had carried in the same location in a different IWB holster.

For the other 10% of the time that wardrobe or cirumstances dictate a smaller gun or a different carry location I switch to my S&W J Frame in a pocket holster or go back to the Makarov. (The Mak will conceal under some clothes in my prefered carry location where I can't conceal the S&W. That's because it's slimmer).

I'm considering switching to a S&W M&P Compact, but I need to buy oen and wring it out for a couple months first. I've really liked the ones I tried, but need my own to really make sure. If it works for me though it will be carried in that same location and will be my "90% of the time" gun.

Steve R said...

I like the idea of carrying one gun only to maximize familiarity.

However, I'm not quite there yet.

Instead, I go for one basic platform. All potential carry guns have two things in common:

No safety levers. Pull the trigger to shoot. That's it. All semis are DA/SA with a decocker, or they're a Glock. Revolvers are DA. I have semis with safeties, but they aren't carry guns, because they don't fit the model.

Anonymous said...

i have carried for thiry yrs i still carry the same style guns.1911 officers model is still and always will be my carry with my new 325pd smith as my backup.

John B said...

I love the comments about the One True Gun. One gun to rule them all!

Tam! Tell me you never sold an owned Luger!

Like Ramirez in Highlander, I would spare you that pain!

John B said...

oh! carrying! I have the S&W 457 in the one true caliber in the small of my back. the Kel-Tec pf-9 in my right pocket. In a holster there, though I carried for a week w/o the holster. And a Tokarev 7.62 X 25 in an uncle mikes sidekick that just fits as a IWB holster.

And if I get to feeling better, I'll take 4 other guns out to the range.

Jeff said...

I've been quite happy with my SA Micro Compact .45 for the better part of the last decade. In a well worn VM-II of course. I originally started my CCW journey with a Full size 1911 in a Summer Special 2, I moved right up to the Microcompact fairly quickly and It's been a great companion ever since.

I do have to admit that about a year ago my Sig collection outgrew my 1911 collection and since I've been semi-seriously considering a change to the Sig 22x platform.

I will not carry my P7, I have failed to make it go boom twice since I picked it up due to the grip safety. I'm very much of the one platform mindset for my CCW.

Caleb said...

In the shooting sports, the same is true, referencing my own experience. In the first half of 2009, I shot the following guns in competition:

1911 in .40 S&W
1911 in 9mm
1911 w/LDA trigger in .45 ACP
1911 w/LDA trigger in 9mm
XD(m) 9mm

I had mixed results, needless to say, hopping from one gun to another like that. In the latter half of 2009, I shot the following guns in competition:

S&W 625

All of sudden, when all I did was shoot one gun, I felt like the wall I'd been hitting started to melt away. This year, I'm going to shoot two guns in competition: the 625 and a 627. The ONLY reason I'm adding a second gun is that the 625 isn't ideal for Steel Challenge or Bianchi Cup. Other than that, both guns are N-frame, double action revolvers and are exactly the same where it counts. They even load and reload the same way, with moonclips.

Anonymous said...

I agree in principle with the point of always doing things the same way so that "muscle memory" can take over and you don't fall prey to "too much mind" (see the movie "The Last Samurai"), but I would disagree with the admonition that you should ALWAYS do everything the same way, summer winter, springtime and fall.

Wearing a heavy coat and gloves in the middle of summer would quickly become a dead giveaway that someone is armed were that philosophy taken to the extreme.

It sounds great to say "always carry the same gun the same way", but sometimes I have occasion to attend more formal get-togethers where an IWB holster with dress shirt tucked in over it is the only appropriate dress.

However, that mode of carry necessitates "less gun" than I would prefer to carry and isn't exactly the most effective in terms of rapid deployment and presentation.

Therefore, when the situation allows it, I'd prefer to carry in a more accessible manner...but that changes my presentation and draw stroke appreciably.

Even transitioning from outdoors in the winter time with a heavy coat and gloves to indoors with the coat and gloves removed appreciably changes the dynamic of deployment of a concealed firearm.

Not to mention the fact that a gun that can be suitably concealed while wearing shorts and a t-shirt may not pack the punch required to penetrate the multiple layers of heavy clothing that an assailant would likely be wearing outdoors in the dead of winter.

Added to that is the fact that what I REALLY prefer is open carry (I realize that I'll likely be castigated, but I can take it) because it's simply more comfortable and MUCH easier to deploy a firearm in that mode of carry than from concealment...but that isn't always appropriate or practical.

All this is to say that, although I agree with the basic premise of doing everything the same way as much as practical...the bottom line is that it simply isn't always practical.

So I'd say something more along the lines of "carry in as consistent a fashion as possible under your particular circumstances."

Tam said...


I'm a big fan of "as possible" and generally don't hold much truck with "always" and "never", except sometimes. ;)

Newt said...

While I don't "rotate" my guns, choosing one platform isn't always the right answer. IF YOU'RE NOT GOING TO TRAIN the platform, then one gun may be the way to go.

Otherwise, let the mission drive the gear. That aphorism applies to non-military. I typically carry P228's and have the most formal training time with that platform as an armorer and shooter. But I also carry off-body regularly in a quick release holster in a briefcase. I need fast access and a gun with some different requirements. So my briefcase is a P7M13. It's a great shooter for off body carry. It has a manual safety, a drop safety (good for briefcase which might get dropped). It's safety is ambidextrous, high capacity(there are two spare mags in holders on the case, but reality says they may not be that accessible). the trigger is disconnected, which is great for off body. etc. etc. etc.

Other people may have different requirements for different guns in different contexts.

Newt said...

Conversely. Like todd said: Really, DON'T carry something you don't train just because you like it.

Tam said...

"While I don't "rotate" my guns, choosing one platform isn't always the right answer."

This is why I use DAO Smiths in purse and/or pocket, since a 5" steel 1911 isn't really the right gun for that application.

Jay G said...

Well, I guess I'm the guy that Todd hates, then.

I've got three different carry guns for various purposes. I carry a G30 when I can get away with a cover garment; I have a S&W J-frame for pocket carry in jeans/cargo pants (larger pockets); and I have a P3AT for those occasions where I can't carry a gun (business casual, summer, etc.)

I'm not as accurate with any of them as the S&W model 17 I shoot a LOT, granted; however with all three (BARELY on the P3AT) I can keep all shots COM at 25 feet under rapid fire.

I try to separate range trips when I can - I find that if I try to practice with carry guns *and* target guns at the same time, I shoot neither variety well...