From Cousin Wallace:
Below is a piece I wrote a couple of years ago when I was inspired by a really tough but really good class we went through as part of our firearm instructor school. Now that "open carry" is just around the corner, we have an opportunity to somewhat "rethink" our carry options as opposed to "concealed carry only." By this I mean that most of us will continue to carry concealed but, we now have the welcomed option of being a little less concerned about accidentally exposing our sidearm. We can now, for example, carry a sidearm in a shoulder or belt holster under a shirt or jacket but, if say the wind blows our shirt up and exposes the weapon on your hip, it's no longer an offense. That's to our advantage as our comfort level as well as our "better armed" level options have increased!
Speaking for myself, I won't be nearly as hesitant to put on a belt holster and carry a larger and potentially more effective sidearm instead of trying to conceal my beloved Kahr 9x19mm single-stack pistols.... IF, it's where I can cover them up with a jacket or slouchy shirt. The Kahrs will still be used heavily as I still believe they are very good pistols firing a nasty 127gr +P+ Talon. Now however, I can certainly strap on a classic 1911, my tried and true Sig P220 or one of the three Glock .357's I carry daily @ work. I have immense confidence in any of them as they offer more "shootability," good sights and good punch with the Glocks offering the added advantage of higher capacity and the very good terminal performance of the .357 Sig cartridge.
My opinions expressed below haven't changed over the last couple of years. I encourage you to read through the text below and be thinking about what you will choose to carry come 01 Jan 2016. Almost everyone I know will continue to carry "concealed" as will I on most occasions. Please remember merely carrying a sidearm doesn't mean you are prepared. Your mindset requires constant attention and you should practice often with any/all sidearms you will carry....the "Murphy's Law" mentioned below is very real and something a lot of folks never think will happen to them. Evaluate your new options and "reply all" for some discussion on this matter for the benefit of all.
Yours in shooting and favor the "X-Ring"
( Previous article from about 2 years ago below)
Most of you receiving this have seen the recent back and forth over what's the most effective handgun calibre which will kind of go along with this little piece. I'll go ahead and say right now, this is just my opinion but, I will try to explain why I have these opinions. Hear me out and keep an open mind and see if you can grasp some of what I'm saying.
Last year our department hosted a course titled "Off-duty Violent Encounters." This day long school was taught by SWAT instructors from Austin, Passadena and Houston. It was geared for off-duty police officers but there was a lot that could be applied to civilians that I want to share. Myself and other adjunct firearms instructors initially took the class then we subsequently taught the rest of our officers during in-service training in the following weeks. It was tough going. These guys drained us of just about every ounce of energy and then required us to shoot under stress. All this to show us an encounter won't be a walk in the park and that our accuracy levels will be affected. We were constantly doing push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, punching bags, kicking bags, elbow strikes....whatever they could dream up to tax our energy & induce stress. Along with the mental stress, they required us to identify and shoot a particular face or facesamong many other faces. We were required to issue verbal warnings to attempt to gain compliance. Assessdifferent levels of threats....shoot/no shoot kind of stuff. It was intense, it was a heck of a class....
I want to address some firearm issues I observed. I came away with somewhat of a different outlook after dealing with the variety of scenarios they threw at us. Some of these are also from the in-service classes we taught during the following weeks. I think I got a pretty clear picture of what works and what doesn't as far as the types of firearms different officers carry for off-duty. Civilians carrying CHL also fit here. Many instances of "Murphy's Law" occurred! Dropped weapons & magazines, fumbling trying to draw from concealment, weapons falling out of waistband during running, etc. One officer's Kel-Tec P32 seized up and we were never able to get it going after that. He had to borrow my pistol to finish the course...fell in love with it too!!!
First and most glaring thing I noticed was that small, easily carried hide-out guns just don't cut it if much poop hits the fan. You better hope you're lucky and everything goes well or you will wish you had brought something bigger/better. Tiny guns are easy to hide and light weight but the are tough to shoot! I'm speaking of Kel-Tec P32's, P3AT's, Ruger LCP's, S&W Bodyguards and others of this size. They are better than a sharp stick but don't have a lot going for them with low capacity, poor sights, hard to manage triggers, etc. They are typically .32ACP or .380ACP which just don't generate much punch. They will certainly kill if shot placement is good....but shots are hard to place with these due to the aforementioned traits.
Very few officers carried revolvers. A couple had S&W snubbie .38's. Since they are only 5-shooters, you better make those 5 count because a reload will be a difficult thing to accomplish during a stressful fight...probably wont be able to get it done. The instructors made this point by having multiple assailants during scenarios. About the only thing going these days for a revolver is that it's probably more reliable and less ammunition sensitive than an auto. Pocket lint, limp-wristing, misfires, etc wont be as much of an problem for the wheelgun. Revolvers also don't conceal as easily as a flat-sided auto. I've still got a couple of .38 snubbies but rarely carry them anymore. The .38 Special ( or .357 Magnum for that matter) just doesn't get a whole lot of velocity out of a 2" barrel. Hollow-points are usually a waste of time & money. I've always thought wadcutters or semi-wadcutters were a person's best bet since they will do the cookie-cutter thing. Roundnosed bullets cause a pucker type hole in flesh and it doesn't bleed as much.
Now, for the opposite side. Big, service size handguns are obviously much easier to shoot and more effective due to their better sights, longer barrels, bigger calibres, etc. Remember, we are talking about "concealed carry"...the instructors made it a point to easily spot who was trying to conceal a weapon that was simply too large to hide without it "printing" under a shirt or being a dead giveaway in the waistline. This is a real problem in the summertime when you cant wear a coat or jacket to help with concealment.
Here's where you need to be honest with yourself which may go against what your initial thoughts were. Is my tiny .380 or 5-shot snubbie adequate if I find myself in a unavoidable confrontation with 2 or 3 thugs? Probably not. You will have to decide for yourself.
Am I willing to go to the trouble to try to conceal and put up with the weight of a full-size pistol like a Glock or 1911? They sure are nice if needed but I can assure you, Ole Murphy will see to it that the one time you don't have them is when trouble will occur.
Over the last 24 years, I've carried a variety of off-duty firearms. I've come to the conclusion one must compromise between small and light enough to be willing to carry in all types of weather/clothing and big enough to be able to shoot effectively with a cartridge/ammo combo that will give me decent terminal ballistics. I have a P3AT Kel-Tec and a P380 Kahr that are tiny & light...pure joy to carry. But, after seeing how poorly they perform in the school, I don't carry them much at all anymore. I realize their shortcomings. My Baby Glock .357 Sig is a powerhouse, but, it's bulky, heavy and just no fun at all to carry. Would be a great thing to have if I needed it though. My S&W 1911 is pure pleasure...but it's big and weighs a ton!
Somewhere between these two extremes should be a handgun that will make a good compromise for you. There are always trade offs. Bigger calibres usually mean bigger frames and less capacity. For me, I've been pleased considderble with my Kahr CW9 and almost as pleased with it's chopped version, the CM9. These are "intermediate size" pistols. Big enough to get a grip on and with good, usable sights...in other words "shootable." They are polymer frame and single-stack magazines. Triggers are DA only but easy to manage...simple for when the SHTF! They are also available in .40S&W and .45ACP but frame size gets bigger and mag capacity is one round less than the 9X19mm versions. With good ammo, the 9mm is better than it's ever been...still no slobber-knocker but no slouch either. With my preferred 127gr +P+ Talons, it cruises along @ 1150+ fps over my chrono...still enough velocity to open up that wicked bullet. The .40 & .45 are more iffy on the expansion due to their slower speed. The Talons usually open up pretty good though.
There are certainly other good choices out there. These just happen to be the ones I'm the happiest with. Maybe you are content carrying your full size service type pistol once a week when you have to go to the store. I have to carry a pistol every day. No biggie on duty in a belt holster. I have tucked my Glock 31 in my waist under a loose shirt or when I'm wearing a coat. Mostly for just a short time. For an extended time though, it's usually one of the 9mm Kahrs and a spare 7-rd magazine. I forgot to mention it was highly encouraged to carry a reload. It's amazing how fast you can go thru a magazine!
It's a good idea to evaluate your method of carry also. You got to be able to conceal but you also will need easy access to your weapon if needed. We were instructed to always carry our badges or police I.D. and how to use this to identify ourselves if involved in a shooting. Don't want some well-meaning CHL holder to think we are the bad guy!
Again, I encourage you to honestly assess your choice of firearm, holster, ammo, etc. It might make a difference if you ever find yourself in a bad situation.
As always, I encourage & welcome your comments and thoughts.