In our last issue, we talked a little bit about the basics of getting ready to concealed carry. We hit some basics on guns, ammo, and very lightly on legal stuff. In this issue we’ll look at concealed carry as a system.

If you are reading this and thinking about buying your first handgun, or your first handgun specifically for concealed carry, lets talk about contradictions and compromises. We are always surrounded by compromises and contradictions. For example, you may drive a subcompact hybrid car. That does great at saving gas — but not so great if you want to haul 50 bags of mulch home from the garden center. A full size pickup would do fine hauling that mulch, but at a cost of higher gas consumption. If you’re always working in your garden and doing DIY projects around the house, perhaps something in between those two vehicles would be a better “fit” for you. A small pickup truck, or maybe a compact SUV. Something that compromises gas mileage and cargo capacity.

Dude, wait, what are you talking about? I thought this was about concealed carry? Compromise. Contradictions. Just like in the scenario where we looked at two different vehicles – guns come in many sizes, shapes, calibers, and “operating systems”. One thing that people who are just getting started shooting handguns often don’t realize is what I like to call “the gun conundrum”. The smaller and lighter a gun is, the easier it is to carry and conceal — but those traits make it more difficult to shoot well. This is the Micro Compact class. Some common examples include the Ruger LCP, Ruger LCP II, Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380. Don’t take this the wrong way – they are quality guns – just difficult to shoot well. Here’s why. Their small size works against them when you go to shoot them. The grip is so small you don’t have much to hold onto, and that makes controlling the gun difficult. The sights are typically just parts of the slide, and the same color as the slide. Also, the sight radius (the distance from the front sight to the back one) is very short, and that makes aiming difficult. The weight that is so light that makes the gun so easy to carry does next to nothing to absorb the recoil of the bullet being fired, so they seem to kick much more than a bigger gun.

Just so you know, I’m not trying to talk you out of buying a gun in that Micro Compact class. I just want you to be aware of what you’re in for because once you buy it, you can’t take it back to the store unless you’re willing to take a hit on depreciation when you trade it in. If you have the opportunity to go to a shooting range that has rental guns, you can sample different guns and “test drive” before you make your choice. Perhaps compare a micro compact like the Ruger LCP, and see how that does vs. something in the next size up. You may find a slightly bigger gun to be a much better choice. There are tons of great guns in the Sub Compact class. Some examples are the Glock 43, Smith & Wesson Shield, Sig P365, Ruger EC9S, and the Springfield Armory Hellcat. My personal favorite and everyday carry is the Walther PPS M2, because it fits my hand better than any of the others, and because of that I can shoot it better than the others.

Your choice of ammo is largely decided by what gun you buy. In our last episode, we talked about the choice of “practice ammo” vs. “defensive ammo”. As of the time I’m writing this – ammo is kind of hard to find, so I’ll just say this. Practice shooting as much as you can for two reasons. Developing proficiency is huge of course, but also you want to know your gun will work reliably. I know one of my guns was really fussy at first – until it was broken in a little bit. This is not uncommon, so if your gun has a few malfunctions when it is brand new don’t freak out. It happens. Based on my guns and my experience, after the first 50 or so rounds and a good cleaning, you’ll be good to go.

What is the rest of “the system”? If you are carrying concealed, the system includes your gun, ammo, plus your holster, belt, permit and brain. We’ve talked about guns and ammo, now lets get into holsters. Here at Cold War Concealment we want to be your go to for everything related to concealed carry other than guns and ammo. Holsters are our jam! The main types of holsters are IWB AIWB and OWB. IWB stands for inside the waistband. These are worn inside your waistband – the only part outside of the waistband is the belt clip. AIWB stands for appendix inside the waistband. Like the IWB holster, it is worn inside the waistband – but is specifically made for appendix carry. That means right up front – directly inline with your belly button. It uses a wing like device called a Mod Wing to help tuck the grip of the gun in, helping keep it concealed. The IWB and AIWB are the most easily concealed, just drape your shirt over it and you’re good. Make sure your shirt is long enough to cover it if you have to reach for something on the top shelf at the grocery store. OWB is outside the waistband. Depending on how you dress, this is more difficult to conceal. It is almost Thanksgiving as I write this – so concealing an OWB holster with a hoody or jacket isn’t too difficult. Many people open carry with an OWB type holster where it is legal, or use them when they are going to the range. Now lets talk about that belt. A sturdy belt improves the performance of any holster. Our Atlas and Peacekeeper IWB / AIWB holsters come standard with the steel Monoblock clip. It will hold securely without a belt — IF your pants, skirt, basketball shorts, yoga pants, whatever have the ability to support the weight of the gun without pulling your pants down. Awkward. Rounding out “the system” is the permit (if needed in your location) and your brain. I’ll leave it to your concealed carry instructor to help you with both of those items. The brain is the most critical part of “the system” and thrives with training. Get all the training you can!! Not only can it possibly save your life one day – its fun!!

Next time on Cold Warriors — the BORING stuff….. stay tuned