Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Don't leave home without them

The Redoubtable Xavier posts this memely challenge:
"I challenge my readers who have their own blog and a camera to unholster their carry gun right now, snap a photo, and post it, linking to this page. Show the world that a gun does not have to be perfect to be beautiful! Don't make me have to tag you!"
Well, I've been meaning to write up a carry guns post, so ok X Man, we'll respond to the challenge. This is what we're carrying right this minute.

First, here's Mels SP101 carry kit. Though most of the time it stays in her bedside drawer, when she's out walking the dog this is with her.

It's your basic SP101, 3" with a light polish job, a bit of trigger work, and a set of custom carved laminated rosewood fingergroove grips. Amazingly enough, those grips are comfy for both Mel and myself, though they do very slightly interfere with speedloaders.

Oh and we only shoot .38spl out of it, because it's a handful with even light .357 magnum loads.

Now on to my carry pieces today... or rather pieces, since I almost always carry a backup.

First up is my G36. It has tritiums, and is lightly customized with a full glockjob as described here; an extended slide stop and mag release, and a +1 finger groove extension for the mags.

And it's companion, a Kel-Tec P3AT, dubbed "MightyMouse"

Finally, this is my complete carry kit today:

Consisting of the G36, Predator IWB with matching Mag Carrier, a +0 finger groove baseplate on the reload mag (I change to the +0 when I go out because it's lower profile. I can barely shoot it with the factory baseplate), the KelTec in a GuruDave hand made custom wallet holster, and a SureFire A2 Aviator.

Though Xavier says a gun doesnt have to be pretty to be functional, and I agree; I like to have nice things, and I like things exactly the way I want them. Thus all the customizations, custom holsters, and the lack of wear (even though I carry these badboys pretty well constantly).

I don't care if something is pretty or high status or expensive; I care that it works, whenever I ask it to; that it doesn't break or die; and that I can carry and use it effectively. I just find that by doing the right custom work, and buying the right pieces, you get those results better and more often.

Now, I carry heavier than most (with good reason). The P3AT is ALWAYS on me, because it’s no bigger than my wallet. The rest are listed in pretty much the order of how easy they are to conceal down here in AZ, where a little bit can make a big difference; though I find mysellf carrying the G36 more than the K9, just for the extra power. It IS a lot bulkier than the K9, but I wouldn’t really want to shoot .45 through anything smaller, and I'll take the .45 over the 9 whenever I can.

Anyway, these are my carry weapons in order of decreasing frequency of carry

1. KelTec P3AT (ALWAYS on me whenever possible) - wallet holster
2. Glock G36 with +1 extension - usually 1 reload, IWB
3. Kahr K9 - usually 1 reload, IWB
4. Yozt-Bonitz custom springfield champion - usually 2 reloads, IWB, belt slide, or high ride
5. Custom (full action job) HK USP compact .45 - usually 1 reload, IWB or belt slide

Note, three of those guns are .45s. Whenever I am wearing clothing that allows it I will carry a .45. Also, importantly, all my carry guns excet the Kel-Tec (which barely has sights at all) wear tritium night sights.

There are times when I only have the backup on me; business meetings arent exactly suited to heavy CCW; but if I’m carrying anything other than the backup, I usually have a .45 (8 or 9 including up the spout), and a reload (7 or 8) or two (for the 1911 because they are easier to carry), PLUS the backup (7) for a minimum of 22 rounds with me; and as many as 32.

No, I don’t think I’m ever going to run through that much ammo on the street without getting killed first; but I may lose a reload, or I may lose a gun.

If I don’t have the backup (very rarely these days), I always have at least one, and preferably two reloads. If I have the backup I generally drop to one reload; but if I’m wearing lighter clothing I will go with the backup and the primary, without a reload; for ease of carry and concealment. It can be quite easy to conceal a pistol but having both a pistol and reload hanging off the belt can be a lot harder (and heavier).

Actually, the KelTec, loaded, weighs less than a loaded USP mag, and carries easier because it’s flatter. It fits right into the back pocket not holding my wallet at the time; or into an inside jacket pocket or even front jeans pocket. You know what they say "The fastest reload is usually another gun".

Just today as I said above, I had the G36, a reload, and the KelTec. In fact, in pretty much all my carry situations these days, you can just add “and the KelTec” to the end of it. It’s pretty well molded itself to my left hip pocket, and just stays in there all the time.

Obviously, I’m trusting my life to that solution, so I’m going to recommend it.

The only thing is, shoot a G36 before you buy it. It isn’t for everybody. The grip isn’t the most comfy for someone who is used to a 1911; and without at least the +0 extension I find it nearly impossible to shoot. I just can’t get a good shooting grip on the gun without the extension, and the +0 still lets the gun jump a bit in my hand so my followup shots aren’t great. The +1 on the other hand makes the grip quite comfortable; but still, it’s a handful in the recoil department, especially for controlled pairs and mozambiques.

Actually the same could be said for the KelTec. They are small, light, and easily concealed, but they do jump a lot. Be sure you can shoot it comfortably and accurately before buying it.

Personally I dont mind any of that; but as anyone who’s shot with me knows, I’m a recoil rhino.

Now the only bad thing I can say about the K9, is that I wish it was the K40. Mine is a generation 1.5 (after the first production bugs were sorted, but before the new frame style) that I picked up as new old stock a couple years bad for about 50% off retail, and I just couldnt resist the deal. Thin is, even a +p+ 9mm is going to have velocity issues from a 3" barrel so I'm not the most thrilled with the performance to weight ratio as compared to the P3AT for example.

KelTec has a new pocket gun sized 9mm as well,

This thing is only a bit bigger than the P3AT, and quite a bit smaller than the Kahr, and smaller than J frame smith (1/2″ shorter, over an inch lower in height, and half an inch thinner), still a lot lighter as well, and is jsut fine for +p 9mm (though it would be a nasty little handful I’m sure).

I havent seen any in stores yet, but the release date is supposed to be the end of this month.

Another new model, the Kahr KP45 is too new for my taste as a carry gun; plus they want a fortune for it. Give it some time to prove itself and I’ll be pretty damn interested.

What I like about it? It’s .5” shorter, 1/8” thinner, the same height, and 3oz lighter than the G36; with a longer and slimmer grip, and lower bore axis (the stagger feed design allows for that). It's barely bigger than the K9, but it's a .45.

Actually I want one anyway, but I’d have to torture test it myself before I trusted it. Its the same design as the K9, which I do trust, but the .45 is an entirely different stress level for the gun; plus its a short, fat cartridge, which may not be the best in Kahrs staggered feed ramp design. We’ll see.

I've written about the Champion and the USP before, and I can't imaginge better guns to trust my life to. They are both entirely reliable, and more accurate than I am. The only reason I don't carry them more, is that they are both a little bit hgiher profile to carry than the G36. When clothing allows it either is my choice...

If I have to declare a preference it's the champion. It's customized exactly to my spec, and it feels like a natural extension of my hand. Plus the heaviest loads in the world won't shake my grip on it, something I can't say about the USP.

I also used to carry a SIG 229 in .357SIG (and .40 - changeable barrels) all the time before I sold it. The new SAS models look very nice, though I still prefer a standard SAO or SA/DA option and don’t care for the RDAK trigger pack that they come with.

Actually I’d love to see them do the same meltjob treatment to the new SA/DA models with safeties they have coming out (rather than the traditional SIG decock only), like the P220 Carry SAO. I prefer the option of condition 1 carry; even in a DA/SA; and I really dont care for DAO (though I carry a Glock, a Kahr, and a KelTec, all of which are similar).

When the money allows, I think that P220 SAS and the Kahr KP45 are going to join the stable so to speak; along with a 5" wilson to replace the one that got lost when my storage unit went under, and a 10mm commander from Dan Wesson... oh and maybe an XD.45

Oh and I want one of those scandium J frames... oh and maybe one of those titanuim Taurus .45 colts... and if someone makes a carry gun that can handle .454 I'm SO there... and that doesn't even get into my open carry guns like the 625... oh and I need to replace my 686p and 386p mountain lite... and... and...

I'm not an adict, really I can quit any time I swear.

Now, as to ammo, I usually keep one magazine of glasers, MagSafes, or BeeSafes handy depending on what the gun prefers; and one magazine of premium defensive hollowpoints.

My guns variously prefer 85gr Winchester Ranger SXT +p+ or Federal Premium (hydrashok) +p, 200gr Hornady XTP +p+, 124 gr +p gold dot, 185gr or 200gr +p Gold dot or 185gr hydrashok, and 185gr or 200gr +p gold dot or 165gr +p Hydrashok.

Why the Glasers? Well I spend a lot of time in locations where I can't be sure of my backstop, because it's a drywall wall; or in crowds.

I recognize the tradeoff in wounding potential on heavily clothed subjects, and in penetration of hard surfaces; but I think the reduced overpentration and ricochet risk makes up for it.

Importantly, I've been able to shoot hundreds of Glasers, MagSafes and BeeSafes through most of my guns, so I know how they function, and how they shoot (which is quite different from normal loads). If you can't do the same, I don't recommend using them. I also don't recommend using them if you can't afford to fire at least one mag of them through the gun every month to keep current. Oh and I can get away with the heavy cloths tradeoff, because I live in Arizona. If I were in the Northeast I don't think I'd make the same choice.

Oh and the Glock doesnt like them much, dunno why. It might be the polygonal rifling, but the HK doesnt mind them at all so I don't really know.

Now as to carry modes, I am almost always an inside the waistband guy these days. It's just a personal prefernce, but I like my guns to be low and tight to my side; and IWB does that best for me.

I can wholeheartedly recommend the solutions I describe above; based on thousands of hours of carry with them in all situations, climates, and clothing.

Now, whats on YOUR belt today?