What I Learned In One Year of Carrying

What I Learned In One Year of Carrying

This is a discussion on What I Learned In One Year of Carrying within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Last March I started carrying. I'm nobody special, I don't have any letters after my name or fancy titles to impress anyone, and I certainly ...

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    VIP Member Array Civil_Response's Avatar
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    What I Learned In One Year of Carrying

    Last March I started carrying.

    I'm nobody special, I don't have any letters after my name or fancy titles to impress anyone, and I certainly am not an expert on guns, ballistics or marksmanship. I read forums night and day because at the time I didn't have friends (or knew of any) that carried or were even remotely gun people. Most of my experience with guns prior to March, 2011 had been with shotguns and hunting pheasant.

    I only wanted to share this because I think it might be useful for others in a similar situation, or even someone more experienced than myself who may be struggling with figuring out why something so simple can be so complicated.

    Choosing A Carry Gun

    The first thing I realized prior to even getting my permit to carry was that choosing the perfect handgun for carry is not an easy task, especially when you've never carried before or have someone to show you the ropes. It sounds simple enough on the forums... buy a Glock 19 or 26 and a Crossbreed Supertuck holster and call it a day.

    Well, I've never been one to follow the crowd so I suppose that might have been the end of it - but I didn't go that route so I may never know.

    What I've come to realize is no big secret, for every positive there's a negative - kind of like photography where you have aperture, shutter speed and ISO - with guns you have Accuracy, Capacity and Conceal-ability, seems with any change of one, you gain or lose on another. Putting all of those into the proper order of importance will certainly reduce your choices in a carry gun, however until you carry it you'll never know if it's actually the right one for you. The good news is that if you shop around and get a good price on your gun, new or used, you won't lose much (if any) money if you decide later it's not for you. The key there is to shop around and try not to pay $799 for a gun you can get elsewhere for $599. If you like to be the first on the forum to get a new release weapon this usually doesn't work in your favor, that's the price you pay to be the cool kid on the block for a month.

    Common choices range from small .380's like the LCP, P3AT and TCP on up to full size 1911's or larger and everything in between, single stack, double stack, revolvers, and of course various sight systems like lasers, night sights and virtually no sights. Of course the decision making doesn't end there, you have triggers systems like single action only, double action only, double action/single action, striker fired, hammer fired, etc, various safeties like trigger safeties, grip safeties, manual safeties and drop safeties, lock or no lock! If that wasn't the end of the headache now you can decide on ammo...

    Choosing The Right Ammo

    Caliber: This could go on forever... but to simplify my life I've concluded that with modern ammo, the 9mm round will get the job done. I guess I subscribe to the "One round on target is great, many rounds on target is even better" philosophy. I enjoy shooting .45 and have no problems with it, but it's more expensive to shoot and I can get back on target faster with a 9mm, at least with a gun that is comfortable for me to carry and become proficient with. My choice may not align with yours and this is a personal battle everyone needs to win for themselves.

    Bullet Type: Full metal jacket (round or flat), expanding full metal jacket, jacketed hollow point, bonded, lots of choices here... and to be honest, most of it is over my head so I leave this to the experts who have time and resources to do the proper tests. I will say I've narrowed my personal choice to Federal HST but still haven't decided on 124 or 147 grain... time will tell, but I'm making progress!

    The most important thing is that you find a round that your gun likes... a round could have the best ballistics on the face of the earth, but if your gun doesn't fire it reliably it's not worth the space it's taking up in your magazine. Unfortunately you just have to spend money in this department and find what works for your gun and yourself, you can narrow it down online - but don't assume that because Glock4Life_1911 swears by Gold Dot 124 grain +P in his Glock 19 Gen 4 that it's going to be the same miracle round in yours.

    Choosing A Carry Method

    Inside the waistband, outside the waistband, belt slide, paddle, pocket, belly band, over the crotch, appendix, small of back, shoulder... the list goes on, which is good, but makes it that much harder to figure out what works and what doesn't, and it's not a cheap adventure. Not only do you have to decide which way(s) you are going to carry, but you need to figure out if you prefer leather, kydex, nylon, cotton, a mix, etc, etc, etc. Like guns, holsters hold their value pretty well and always seem to sell quickly (except over the crotch holsters for some reason). With one other exception, you're like me and are left handed - your share is only about 30% of the overall market from what I've been told (higher than I expected honestly). Still, there are plenty of lefties out there looking for a good deal on a holster .

    I carry inside the waistband on occasion, but really prefer outside the waistband on the belt even though a paddle is more convenient, especially for a lefty. I also like the feel of leather better, but prefer the durability of kydex which has led me to many Silent Thunder holsters.

    Concealed vs Open Carry

    I'm fortunate enough to have the choice, and I appreciate that every single day. Although I normally carry concealed, I do like to open carry on occasion when I feel it's OK to do so and won't stir the pot (perceived or real). I don't do it because I want attention or to feel important, I do it because that's just how I felt like carrying at the time, like I said - I love the option and also I love not having to worry about printing or 'accidental exposure'.

    Being On Display

    Oddly enough, by mentality or location, I never really felt like everyone was looking at me until the first time I open carried for any length of time. Even then there were maybe 2 people who I think might have noticed, but went about their business. It reminded me of the years prior when I didn't realize people could carry a handgun in public, I just assumed everyone I saw with a gun was in law enforcement of one form or another. In general, I think that's probably the case for those who have no idea it's legal.

    Carry With A Round Chambered

    Yes, I was one of them. I fought a long, hard, uphill battle on this one with many people because I thought I was bringing something new to the table, reasons maybe people hadn't thought of in support for carrying without one in the pipe. One can argue all day about the speed of the draw, and to be quite honest, the difference could be a moot point when all is said and done, and that wasn't the 'selling point' to me on why carrying without one in the chamber was a bad idea. What really hit me was when I read (or watched on YouTube) where someone mentioned the same things I just did, but then gave a valid reason, or at least one that clicked for me... the main disadvantage to carrying without one chambered is that you have to chamber a round. Sounds like a 'duh' moment, right? But there's more to it than chambering a round, it's the fact that most problems occur during this time. Let's be honest, there's a lot that happens, and it's a pretty violent act getting that round where it needs to be, lots of room for failure here. With one already in the chamber you've got about a 99.9% chance of that baby firing at least once before you have problems, and that may be the one shot that changes the outcome of your situation. So for me, it wasn't speed of draw, it wasn't that my gun may as well be an expensive rock, or any other cliche phrase I read time and time again... it was the fact that I'll probably screw up my perfect one handed rack when it matters most, or that my recoil spring will decide to break at the wrong moment... way too many avenues for failure for me to take that chance.

    Conclusion

    Basically, what I've learned over the last year of carrying is that there is so much thought to be put into a carry 'system' that it's almost impossible to get it right the first time, and it may never be 'perfect'.

    But most importantly, I've learned that you need to keep in mind why you're going through all of this in the first place. It's not to have the latest and greatest gun, it's not to have the most beautiful holster, and it's not to be cool. It's for that moment you hope never happens, that split second where you have to decide to use your gun to save your life or that of someone you love, so really, it's all for something you hope you never have to deal with.

    In the end, I hope it's the biggest waste of time and money I've ever invested, and that it was all for nothing.
    But... if I ever need it, I hope I've done everything possible to increase my chances of success and to have the best possible outcome.

    So there you have it... words from nobody you'd think was anything special!

    I look forward to what learning experiences the following years will bring, and know full well that I'll come back to this thread and wonder what I was thinking not carrying a Glock 19 or 26 in a Crossbreed!


  2. #2
    Distinguished Member Array Burns's Avatar
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    Good info for beginners to take into consideration. Nice thread.
    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable- JFK

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    Distinguished Member Array TSiWRX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thunder71 View Post
    In the end, I hope it's the biggest waste of time and money I've ever invested, and that it was all for nothing.
    But... if I ever need it, I hope I've done everything possible to increase my chances of success and to have the best possible outcome.
    ^ This.

    I also started carrying last March.
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    Member Array Kadelic's Avatar
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    Nice post. I'm about 1/4 of the way into my first year in the world of CC (no open carry in Texas yet). Thanks to forums and threads like this I feel I got a bit of a jump on the learning curve, at least as far as being exposed to the plethora of options, opinions, and raw information out there. Six months ago I had never fired or owned a handgun. Now it doesn't seem right leaving the house without one.
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    VIP Member Array Brad426's Avatar
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    Good thread. Glock4Life_1911 is right about the Gold Dot 124 gr +P though...
    JoeK likes this.
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    P95
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    Nice thread....thanks for taking the time to post. I am three weeks away from my permit. Excited....but nervous.

  7. #7
    Distinguished Member Array Burns's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by P95 View Post
    Excited....but nervous.
    We all were at first. There's really nothing to be nervous about :)
    pilot101 and cc9mm like this.
    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable- JFK

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    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Good article. Really. Good points and by the way a "mute point" is better understood as a 'moot point'. I just had to put that in since I've made the same mistake myself. Overall, I might give you an A+ on the essay, but I simply can't and be fair to others who might very well post one of their own (without mentioning Glock). Since you did mention Glock you get a B+. Your autobiography doesn't need to include things that don't benefit the subject IMO. We're always learning....each and every one of us. It takes quite a bit of (call it what you will) to post one's personal experiences for others' benefit. You open yourself up to so many things at this point even though your intentions are good from the start. That involves risk. Just like driving a car, and going out in public.......those things involve risk as well. You just keep on doing what you're doing and you'll be fine. I'm glad you chose to be a part of this forum actually.
    By the way....you'll quit hovering over your OP awaiting every response as time goes on. Subscribe to your thread and read them via email to keep up to date.

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    Great post, Thunder71! That pretty well cuts through all the smoke and haze about arming oneself and does it better than the magazine articles that have been devoted to this same topic.

    Of course you realize that your post, if taken to heart, negates the value of much that is a firearms forum.

    So, we'll note your post approvingly and go back to our regularly scheduled (mostly) pointless debating.

    Particularly thoughtful quotes:

    "What I've come to realize is no big secret, for every positive there's a negative..." (regarding choice of handgun-so true that one can't "have it all").

    "...don't assume..." (that simple phrase works so well for so much of life-though it rightly is referring to consideration given to others choices and experiences with certain firearms/ammunition)

    "(except over the crotch holsters for some reason)" (an understatement most droll)

    "...it's not to be cool." (Absolutely! Though there are those wrong-headed types out there for whom it is about the cool factor)

    "In the end, I hope it's the biggest waste of time and money I've ever invested, and that it was all for nothing.
    But... if I ever need it, I hope I've done everything possible to increase my chances of success and to have the best possible outcome."
    (This would be an appropriate sticky note to place on the inside of the gun safe, visible every time the door was opened.)
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society "Get heeled! No really"

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    Distinguished Member Array ericb327's Avatar
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    Nice read, thanks
    For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill. (Sun Tzu) The Art of War

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    Ex Member Array Yankeejib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by P95 View Post
    Nice thread....thanks for taking the time to post. I am three weeks away from my permit. Excited....but nervous.
    I remember when my card came, I strapped up and went for a walk to town. You'll swear everybody can see it. They can't. Now I'm sure I could harbor a refugee camp in my pants, and nobody's gonna see it. I spot a CCW every now and then, but who cares. I've had a CCW'er spot me and suggest my cover garment (a white T-shirt) was insufficient (still legal), and I appreciated the notice. 96% of the people are totally oblivious, and the other 4% are carrying too.
    zonker1986 and mano3 like this.

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    VIP Member Array Civil_Response's Avatar
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    Edited 'mute' to 'moot' thanks. :)

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    I remember the first time I started carrying (10 years ago) I thought that everybody was watching me. I went through a plethora of guns including Sig 229, 228, Glock 17 Glock 27, Glock 29, Glock 23, Glcok 33, Glock 35, HK USP, Beretta 92F/S, 1911, however, I always for some reason migrate back to the Glock 19. I have now been carrying that gun regulary for 5 straight years. I added a Ruger LC9 small pocket pistol to be carried in a Demesantis pocket holster on my non carry side. I have been through every holster imaginable, I think I have in the neighborhood of 75 holsters, however I have a very limited number that get used the ones that get used are the MIlt Sparks VM-2, a Saifariland ALS for those open carry/comfortable moments, a Comp tac M-Tac for work since I have to carry concealed and tuck in the gun, and the holster that gets the most use my tommy pack fanny pack. I carry this the most due to riding a bike in my commute and when I just don't feel like strapping on a holster.

    So I agree with the OP find whats comfortable in the end there is no one way only your way. However, I will say this researching and listening to others who have carried a long time or carry professionally can have its bonuses. I have a number of friends that are old retired cops who have carried heavy guns over the years. I have friends who have nerve problems due to strapping on heavy metal guns.. I have noticed this myself after carring an all metal gun that it can cause my leg to hurt, this causes me to go back to the tactical tupperwear which then solves the problem.
    “Are you a thermometer or a thermostat, do you reflect or become what is happening in the room or do you change the atmosphere, reset the temperature when you come into the room”?--Chuck Swindoll

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    VIP Member Array mprp's Avatar
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    Great post Thunder71! I think that's something that needs to be written in newspapers so it can reach others that may not frequent forums. Seems it would catch those who are on the edge and give them a bit of a boost and food for thought when it comes to self defense. It would also show that they are not alone and there actually IS a place to start if they're interested enough. We all had to start somewhere. Again, very nice post!
    Ram Rod likes this.
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    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thunder71 View Post
    Edited 'mute' to 'moot' thanks. :)
    No problem. I got a PM from a member after I made my boo-boo on it. Another good forum member actually. New friend just for pointing it out to me. LOL! Like I say.....we seem to have a good system here in many ways. You can find plenty more in the printed word than the spoken word actually. Odd how it works and I'm still a fan of face to face conversation. Thing is...with the written word you can always go back and find what you might have forgotten in a five minute conversation.

    Quote Originally Posted by mprp View Post
    Great post Thunder71! I think that's something that needs to be written in newspapers so it can reach others that may not frequent forums. Seems it would catch those who are on the edge and give them a bit of a boost and food for thought when it comes to self defense. It would also show that they are not alone and there actually IS a place to start if they're interested enough. We all had to start somewhere. Again, very nice post!
    I agree completely with this suggestion........but please......edit your post and leave out the Glock parts as a subjective point of view........I guarantee it will make you more credible.

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