Good advice for 2006 CCW seekers!
(Written by a good friend of mine.)
Concealed Carry Weapons
Many people may start this new year considering obtaining a CCW permit or starting to carry a concealed handgun. The following is offered for your consideration.
There are many choices for the armed individual who wants to carry a large framed handgun under winter clothing, or for those who want to carry a peashooter in their bathing suit.
Most people will opt for an intermediate solution which is small enough to carry concealed under most circumstances, yet powerful enough to reliably put down multiple adversaries with properly placed rounds.
We will not deal with the legalities and moral issues of carrying a concealed weapon here. If you have those questions, see an attorney or a priest. www.packing.org
is another place to check out your legal options. I would state that everyone thinking about owning a firearm for personal defense take a quiet moment to reflect on whether you would be willing to take another's life to protect yourself or those you are responsible for. If not, do us all a favor and do not carry a firearm for defense. Likewise, if you are the kind of person who is looking for an opportunity to brandish your piece for minor reasons or to shoot a person under anything other than deadly force conditions, do us a favor and and do not carry a firearm.
When I carry a concealed weapon, I also find it handy to carry a good flashlight, at least one spare mag, a can of OC, a knife, a cellular phone, and a set of flexcuffs. Not every situation requires lethal force. Everything that you shoot at needs to be positively identified before you press the trigger. You may have to restrain someone and not be able to hold a weapon on them until they are taken into custody. Know the laws in your area. Get to know the cops in your area. Be a good guy/gal.
Do not get your CCW mags out of the "Grab Bag" bin or from a dumpster behind the pawn shop. Buy new factory mags or better quality, test them before you use them with your carry rig, keep oil off the rounds, shoot up the carry ammo every six months or less, and if you get a mag related malfunction that cannot be remedied by a spring or follower change, smash it with a hammer or at least mark it and rotate it to training use only.
To carry concealed requires a decent holster. Please do not embarrass the rest of us and try to get by with a $3.00 nylon bargain basement "one size fits all" special. This will result in you flashing your piece, dropping your weapon at inopportune moments, and drawing a holstered weapon with the holster still attached. Don't try to use a holster meant for another weapon unless it really fits. Serious people carry serious gear. Don't put your $700 pistol in the cheapest holster you can find if you expect to carry concealed past the end of your driveway. Sticking the weapon in your belt for carry is dangerous, stupid, and makes you look like a rank amateur.
If you are betting your life on being able to stop an opponent with your handgun, you need the best ammunition that you can find. You may not be able to get LeMas, but the only reason to carry Wolf in a duty gun is if that is all you can find, or that is what you are issued. In either case, you need to be seeking alternatives. Never forget that the two loudest sounds in the world are a click that should have been a bang, and a bang that should have been a click.
Maintain your weapon. Rust, dirt, crud from last year's live fire, and pocket lint are not sexy. Clean your weapon regularly, and lube it according to the book. Function fire or function check after disasssembly. Select a safe carry condition appropriate for your threat and carry method, and use it all of the time.
Finally, serious professionals are well-trained. They got that way by quality practice and by seeking training from qualified professionals. Do not be ashamed to get good training before you start packing, or to seek additional training, no matter how good you are. I attended several classes last year. Training is an opportunity to learn things, good and bad, and to add tools to your kitbag. If your five day, $1000 course winds up teaching you one additional technique, on the day you have to draw your weapon and you need that tool, it will have been well worth it.
Your training should include instructions on when you can draw your weapon and engage an opponent. This is not television, you cannot whip out your piece and shoot at people without a very sound reason. You will be held accountable for every round you fire. You will not shoot another human being and stroll off to the applause of the cops like the good guys do on television. You may wind up in court defending your actions at great expense while your freedom is in peril, even if your actions were fully justified. You will probably be sued in civil court regardless of the criminal outcome. Know the applicable laws, know when you can/may/must act, and what to do if you do have to shoot another person. Keep a defense attorney's number in the cell phone, remember that you have the right to an attorney before answering any questions, and almost certainly should take advantage of that right, even if you think you were fully justified. Lawyering up is not a crime, regardless of what they tell you.
LEOs now have the option of nationwide concealed carry. IMHO, backup guns should if at all possible be the same caliber as the primary piece, and preferably take the same mags as well. I would hate to be in a serious gunfight and have a .45 duty gun go down in the first mag, and be left with a .38 revolver as my only backup. I would also not want to be stripping .40 rounds out of duty mags to try and transfer them to an empty bakckup gun mag while under fire.
I also prefer that backups function the same as the primary, so that you are not trying to disengage a safety only to find out that it is a decocker. I am not a fan of the "Gun of the Week Club". Find a handgun that works for you and stick with it. I have used a variety of pistols, but have stuck with 1911s as carry pistols since 1977. When I carried a Government Model primary, I carried a Lightweight Officer's Model as a backup. When a Para P-14 was my primary, I carried an alloy Para P-12 as a backup. For those with large frame Glock primaries, I would recommend a Glock sub-compact in the same caliber as backup.
I have personally attempted to concealed carry everything from a .22LR NAA Mini-Revolver to a Para-Ordnance .45 ACP at various times. Most people today with CCWs who are serious will opt for a concealed weapon in .38 Special, 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP. There are those who will use a .25, .32, .380, .357, 10mm, .44, .45 Colt, or another unusual caliber. If it works reliably for you, you can hit what you need to, and you are comfortable carrying it (literally and figuratively), that is your call. If I am in very lightweight summer clothing, I will occasionally opt for a Kel-Tec .380. If so, I will keep a Para or other larger weapon as close at hand as possible. Regardless of the caliber, remember what Jeff Cooper said about a pistol being what you carry when you are not expecting to be in a gunfight and Clint Smith's adage that a handgun is what you use to fight your way back to where you left your real gun.