I have a number of options when it comes to “CCW Gear”.
For “CCW” gear – one must make compromises compared to when one doesn’t have to worry about concealing everything.
The ground rules for CCW - at least for me - are the following:
1. USUALLY smaller is better
2. One has to take into account how one dresses
3. Whatever firearm you are carrying must be readily accessible with a minimum of fuss trying to get to your piece.
4. The firearm must be reliable (go bang every time) and durable (able to withstand the environmental conditions)
5. The firearm must be “hidden in plain sight”
Then there are other factors one must consider – such as:
A. What caliber one will carry
B. If one will carry an extra mag (and where)
C. If one will carry a light source (flashlight)
D. What other equipment one will carry, and where
Well – lets take them one at a time, starting with #1 which states: “USUALLY smaller is better”.
This really should be a “no-brainer” when taken at face value – but when one really considers what this means – one finds a bewildering array of “pluses” and “minuses”.
For instance – smaller USUALLY means smaller caliber too. Not always – but most of the time. This is because when one is dealing with “larger” caliber – one must have a firearm that has a heavier/larger barrel, slide, frame, etc. If one chooses a “mouse” gun (.380 or smaller) – then the mass of the slide, frame, etc can be quite small – because there is not much power to those calibers. That is the problem – BECAUSE there is not much “power” on the firing end – they also lack “power” on the receiving end too.
This means if you want more “power” – you need a bigger gun. And – a bigger gun is harder to conceal than a smaller one. See the problem?? And revolvers all have cylinders that are wider than most large autos – so that must be considered too.
Lets now look at #2: “One has to take into account how one dresses”. We don’t ALWAYS dress the same – every day. There are climatic changes for most of us from winter, to spring, to summer and then to fall. There are a minimum of two seasons everywhere in the 48 states – those being hot and warm/cool. Some of us go from extreme cold to hot. So we have the opportunity to dress differently throughout the year without calling undo attention to ourselves. So – that means we can have different carry modes throughout the year. Also – cultural/sociological factors will also determine what mode we might use to carry. Some of us wear suits to work, some of us wear shorts. Our carry mode can be very different with our “work” dress, and that can be very different from our “play” dress.
Next up is #3 – which is: “Whatever firearm you are carrying must be readily accessible with a minimum of fuss trying to get to your piece.” Concealment and accessibility are mutually exclusive terms. You can’t have one and have the other – it is a series of compromises. You must hide your piece well enough – but not too well that you can’t get it when you need it either!
Number 4 states: “The firearm must be reliable (go bang every time) and durable (able to withstand the environmental conditions)” ANY firearm that you are going to stake your life (and the lives of others) on should be test fired with at LEAST 100 rounds of the ammo you choose to carry, and lost more of “similar” (but less expensive) ammo to ensure mechanical reliability. However that is not the same are “durability”. Here is what we mean - some of the smaller caliber pistols (auto’s) are carried in the pocket or on the ankle. Both of these places are hard on firearms. There is tremendous amount of dirt/lint/grit in both of these areas. (Turn one of your pockets inside-out and you will be amazed at the dirt/lint/grit in the bottom of the pocket. Now consider stuffing this “fuzz” in your auto-loaders action!) Revolvers can fall to this same prey – but they are usually a little more forgiving than small autos are.
Number 5 says: “The firearm must be “hidden in plain sight”” That is paramount – as in most states – if someone sees your carry piece – it might be considered “brandishing a weapon” – which is a serious enough offense that you could lose your right to carry! So – holster/carrier selection must take a high priority.
Then there are the other considerations – such as:
A. What caliber should I carry? This is a very personal question – and my answer may differ from yours, and vice versa. What must be considered is the threat level of the areas that you frequent. I would say that a city dweller would probably live under a “higher threat-level” than most rural dwellers. Also – health reasons may dictate that a small caliber pistol be used. I know some people with arthritis so bad that they just could not practice with a more powerful handgun. And – few would argue that a .22 in your hand is FAR better than the .45 left in the safe.
I can tell you that for “my” needs – the minimum caliber I will carry is 9mm – and I usually (99 times out of a 100) carry a .40 caliber handgun.
B. Will I carry an extra mag (and where)? For me – it depends on my mode of carry.
C. Will I carry a light source (flashlight)? Well – since a flashlight is just a dang handy piece of gear anyway – I usually carry one.
D. What other equipment will I carry, and where? I always have a folding knife, a cell phone, some money, my wallet (that has my CCW permit) and my Oakley brand sunglasses. Note – I ALWAYS have my Oakleys on. Think of it this way – we wouldn’t DARE go practice without wearing eye protection would we?? What with back-splatter and stuff – we ALWAYS wear eye protection when we shoot. Well – if we deem eye protection essential to “practice” on a “one way range” – what makes you think “two way ranges” are any safer for our eyes???
OK – now for what I “actually” carry – and how.
I have 4 different “set-ups” – and depending upon what my perceived needs are – determines which set-up I go with.
First up is my “deep concealment” rig. It is an ankle rig for when I have to be in business casual – you know – dress slacks and a nice button up shirt. I usually am addressing a crowd – and since I the focal point – I am too self conscious if I am “belt carrying” with a “tuckable IWB” holster. So – I use an ankle rig. The rig I use is made be “Renegade” (they can be reached at Renegade, P.O. Box 31546, Phoenix, AZ 85046, Tel: 602-482-6777 – they don’t have a web-site) and I carry my Glock 27 in it. It is as comfortable a rig as I have found for ankle carry. Note that I use a “trigger block” in my G27 when I carry it in the ankle holster. I ensures that the trigger CANNOT be pulled. It also is very easily “popped” out with my trigger finger when I draw. Note that in this carry mode I have my wallet, knife, money, cell phone and glasses.
Next up is my “business” carry when the threat level is elevated because of where I am going – and this is how I travel in business attire too (if I am not flying). I use a “Coronado Leather - Ultima Waist Pack.”. (Web site: http://www.coronadoleather.com/default.aspx?n=516601 ) It is small – too small for my Glock 23 – but my Glock 27 fits in it just fine. It is made of VERY high quality leather – and looks GREAT. It reeks of “quality” – so it is not out of place in business attire. When using this rig – in addition to what I carry above – I have a small flashlight (my SureFire is too big for this rig) and a 13 round mag from my Glock 23 – so I have a few more rounds in reserve. Note that I use the trigger block in this rig too. My personal standard is the unless my Glocks are in a “bona fide” holster that covers the trigger guard – I use the trigger block. YMMV.
The next two rigs are for my “everyday/play” wear.
The first one is my BladeTech IWB (contact info: ) for my Glock 23. I use a “Liger” belt from MAXPEDITION (contact info: http://www.maxpedition.com/product/p...er_belt150.htm ) – it is the best CCW belt I have ever used. Note the Surefire flashlight I carry in my pocket, and the rest of my “1st line Urban Gear”. I really like Kydex for holsters - it won’t absorb sweat, and they “stay open” which makes it easy to re-holster. Plus they are “thinner” than leather – which also aids in concealment.
The last picture is of my “Going to the Big City Gear”. The “waist pack” is a “Tommy’s GunPack” – and IMHO it is the waist pack by which all others are judged. (Web-info: http://www.wilsoncombat.com/l_gunpack.asp ) It allows wicked fast access to my Glock – yet it is descrete enough to not draw attention. It is also big enough to carry what I need – yet small enough to not look out of place. This is for when we go to the city as a family – and I feel the need for more gear.
With this rig – I carry my Glock 23 with M3 light attached. I also carry a 15 round magazine from my Glock 22 – to give me more spare ammo. Note that I also have my Surefire on board too – giving me two light sources.
Hope this helps,