T Nation

CCW Preferences


I'm curious what you all think about safety less CCW?

Several People I know love carrying Keltec's compact 380. The trigger pull is really stiff however; It is often carried loose in a pocket with no holster. Is this shit safe?

Secondly, Is a safety a detriment for the average armed citizen?

I worked with a retired state trooper who carried a .22mag revolver as pocket pistol. His theory was have something small, safe, and comfortable to carry. And keep the serious fire power in your truck.

What do you carry and why?


I carried a department-issue .40 H&K P2000 for about three years. Double action only, no safety. I would throw the thing across the room with a round in the chamber, it wasn't going off unless I pulled the trigger.

A safety is no detriment if you practice with it. For me, thumbing the safety off is part of my draw stroke. I can quickdraw a cocked and locked 1911, thumb the safety off, and put multiple rounds downrange just as quickly and with more accuracy than the stiff double action trigger on my P2000. That being said, the Springfield XD, S&W M&P series, and H&K's all have passable double-action only semi-auto triggers. Not as nice as a good double action revolver trigger, but not bad.

I like a traditional single action, 4 inch barrel 1911 carried on the strong side kidney in an inside-the-pants holster for CCW. If you can't deal with a CCW problem with 8 rounds of .45, you probably shouldn't engage in the first place. The 1911 slide trigger is the worlds most perfect pistol trigger, and there are metric ass tons (slightly larger than a standard ass ton) of customization options for the 1911 to make it your own.

If money is no object I like Sig's version (or Kimber, YMV), but if money is a problem you can go to almost any pawn or milsurp shop and get a usable one for a couple hundred bucks. The .45 is a great manstopper pistol round, and it's easier to get and easier on barrels than a .40.

I'm not a fan of the 9mm, the 380, the .38 special, or .22's for a defensive pistol. This is likely an "oh shit" moment, and I much prefer a round that will stop in one hit. These rounds will kill eventually, but are less likely to make the first shot an instant stopping hit.

The .40, the .45, the .357, .45 long colt, and .44 mag are all much better for a one-shot stop (I'm assuming you're using good quality hollow point or frangible ammo). The .410 shotshell revolvers will also put someone down, but they're rare. Bottom line: I think you should use a manstopper round you can comfortably carry and accurately put on target under duress, all other considerations are personal preference.


Like the devil dog said some of those rounds are probably a little light and small. 1911s are heavy but thin so they conceal well. I also use strong side inside the waistband carry. I also think a second mag is a good idea, that is the thing most likely to fail on a firearm. As for the safety being a problem it is not for me but you must practice taking it off safe. A pocket gun without a holster would make me a little uncomfortable but if it is what you are comfortable with you would probably be alright.


Please get a pocket holster if you are carrying a loaded weapon in your pocket. I say this for 3 reasons.

1.-It prevents accidently operating the trigger. In theory this should not be an issue since you should be practicing trigger control and not have anything else in the pocket with the gun, ever. In practice mistakes can happen. Especially if you are a "part time" carrier or do not always carry in a pocket(and lets face it, if we have the choice most of the time we would prefer a bigger gun) it is easy to find a set of keys, a pen, or some such in the pocket you are planning on sliding a loaded pistol into.

2.-It helps keep lint/filth out of the gun. This is a real concern. Errant lint can do a number on a gun's function. Especially if the gun is one of the small autos (Kel-tec or Ruger LCP) so popular today. Usually, the smaller the action the more finicky.

3.-A pocket holster allows for safer "administrative" handling of the weapon. The gun and holster can be inserted or withdrawn from the pocket as a "safe" unit. This may seem inconsequential, but one advantage of pocket carry is the ability to arm and disarm somewhat surreptitiously. If your days errands take you someplace where you are prohibited from being armed (Federal Building, Court House, etc.) it is easy to remove the gun and holster. Local carry laws may make this impractical or downright illegal in some places. In others it is great.

I think the FIST pocket holsters are the best solution because of they have a thumb tab that is used to seperate the holster from the gun. This makes the draw stroke out of the pocket less susceptable to fuck ups than relying on friction or a "hook" to catch on the pocket lining when drawing quickly while moving or in awkward positions. I prefer the thin Kydex model.


I also have good experience, and have heard others state the same, with DeSantis's Nemisis and SuperFly pocket holsters. These have the advantage of being a stocked item in many shops, on Amazon, at Midway etc.



Robert A


Do you have an opinion about the quality control issues at Kimber and Sig now? It appears the same CEO that was responsible for largely eliminating Kimber's QC, while also pushing the firm to huge profits, is now at Sig doing the same thing. I have heard multiple fans of Kimber and Sig saying they would not trust any of the "new" production models without very thorough vetting because they are not up to the old standards. There is also Sig's somewhat infamous "undue emphasis on reliability" letter to the Feds.

As for capacity in a handgun. I understand the sentiment. Size is an issue and I think the 1911 design with a light straight pull trigger (doesn't hinge at the top) and a heavy frame is incredibly easy to shoot well. I will go so far as to say the design is so good that it allows the shooter to make some mistakes and still perform well. (Before anyone jumps of me for this watch some video of Robby Leatham shooting. He slaps the shit out of his trigger and gets away with it. If I tried that on one of my glocks I wouldn't be able to hold minute of mule at 7 yards.)

That said there have supposedly been some studies on how even highly trained people react to having to shoot in purely defensive situations that paint a picture of "more is better" with regards to ammo.

As for 9mm vs .40 vs .45 I would prefer (and use) ammunition which meets FBI/DOJ guidelines in a gun that I shoot well. I find myself moving away from .45 because 9mm lets me practice cheaper and I personally think sucking less will do me better than a bigger bullet that I get less practice with. Although for right now my answers are Glock 36, 230 grain Gold Dots, M-tac behind the hip or .38, 110 +P Cor Bon DPX or 135+P Gold Dot short barrel, in a POCKET HOLSTER.


Robert A


Thanks for the in depth run down.

I feel ya on the double action revolvers. I have a 686 S&W 357 double action with a custom trigger job and that baby is butter smooooth!

I am not comfortable yet with single action weapons. I did have a chance to pic up a 45 colt ruger blackhawk for 325. I decided against it due to the single action.

What do you think about using your carry weapon for IDPA? I was going to trade my glock longslide in on a SW MP with a thumb safety.


Very valid points. I personally know three people all ex-military that have had accidental discharges two of them were hit the other was lucky.

Do you all wear long shirts when concealing in the summer time on a strongside CCW?


My friend and his father both purchased Sig Copperhead 380's and had very serious problems with both guns.

I have heard the traditional P-series is still solid though.

I was shooting a sig p220 45ACP the other day and loved it. That is a pricey gun though!



I am not Jim and am not speaking for him.

First, I am not sure if you are familiar with how single action auto's( 1911's, Browning Hi-Powers, etc) work vs single action revolvers.

You mentioned you have a glock so I am guessing you are familiar with that manual of arms as well as the manual of arms for your 686. "Single Action" refers to the trigger performing the single function of allowing the hammer to fall and firing the round. Double action implies that the trigger both cocks and releases the hammer as it is pulled.

In an auto the slide cycles after the round is fired. This cycling cocks the hammer for the next shot. With Jim's 1911 the hammer is cocked, and the weapon is put on "safe" by means of a thumb safety (there is a grip safety also that is deactivated by a normal firing grip). In order to fire the gun the thumb safety is wiped off with the thumb (usually as part of the draw stroke) and after that point each pull of the trigger nets a bang until the magazine is empty and the slide locks back.

With a Double action auto (often called a DA/SA or double/single action), the slide still cocks the hammer. However, for the first shot the hammer is down. The first trigger pull, a longer and heavier pull, both cocks and releases the hammer and after that the cycling of the action cocks the hammer and you have lighter single action shots. The sig P220 was likely of this action type. Some DA/SA autos have manual safeties, but they are often on the slide and are in my opinion harder to use than a frame mounted safety. The hammer can also be manually cocked for a single action first shot.

A double action only auto is the long double action pull for each shot. The action cycling does not result in the hammer staying cocked. Some Sig's have this action type.

Your glock or the Smith and Wesson M&P are striker fired. There is no hammer to speak of. Each trigger pull is consistent from shot to shot.

A double action auto like your 686 has a trigger that can function as a double action, or you can cock the hammer resulting in a lighter, shorter trigger pull.

A single action revolver requires the hammer to be manually cocked each time. There is no slide, obviously. So unlike a 1911 it is not press trigger=fire, but cock hammer then press trigger=fire. Single action revolvers also tend to be slower to load. For the record I think a well made single action is the most naturally pointing and enjoyable hand gun to shoot, but I would consider the action a serious handicap vs. any of the above.

You may have already known all of this, but when you mentioned not being sold on "single action", passing on a single action revolver, and considering an M&P that will have a similar/the same manual of arms (firing grip, safety, off, sights on target, trigger press) as DevilDogJim's 1911 I got the feeling maybe you didn't.

The m-tac (by Comp-tac) holster I use is "tuck able", meaning it allows me to tuck a shirt over the holstered weapon and into my pants. I am almost never out of the house under circumstances where I feel an untucked shirt is appropriate. Of course those in warmer climates, who don't dress like "my Grandpa/Dad"(I hear this a lot) may not need this feature. The holster is still very comfortable and works well with an untucked garment as well.

I like the idea of using a carry weapon in IDPA/USPSA as long as you are ok with being possibly less competitive in the game. Generally glock 19 size guns work about as well until the longer shots come up.

I like the M&P pistols quite a bit. I need to shoot a series of drills with one next to my glock and under a timer to decide which I like better. I really like the feel of the M&P9c. I like the frame safety as a feature because it makes for safer re-holstering. Don't laugh. "Glock leg" because something (not always your finger, it has been shirt tails, cords from windbreakers, thumb breaks from holsters, leather from the inside of a poorly maintained holster, etc.) got caught in the trigger guard is a real concern of mine. A safety makes it a bit less likely.

If you are buying an M&P I would consider waiting a month or two. Smith and Wesson is supposedly making an upgrade to their triggers that will result in a smoother trigger and a firmer reset that mimics the APEX kits. The mushy reset is the pistol's biggest draw back in my opinion and while there are aftermarket kits they cost money, need to be swapped back out before any factory warranty work, and may put you out of production class for IDPA.


Robert A



I realized my last post was somewhat ambiguous. Thanks for the detailed post.

And thank you so much for the info on the M&P. I was about to pull the trigger on getting the M&P very soon.

Do you reload? I'm pretty good with shot shells reloads, but I'm slowly learning pistol and rifle reloading. I want to work my way up to a progressive setup for handgun and 223 ammo.

cheers its friday!


I haven't had anyone I know with QC problems on their SIGs, but most of them are older. The Kimbers from the custom shop held up ok, IIRC it was only their mass-market compact model that really had problems. I would assume the Sig custom models would be similarly high quality, as they are all done by hand with Sig's master gunsmiths. Springfield Armory makes a good pistol too, but once you pay for the customization it's just wicked expensive. Taurus makes 1911's, but they and Colt both always seemed to be lower quality for what you're paying them. I'm biased against Taurus because of their crap Beretta 92 knockoffs (a garbage remake of a garbage gun IMHO), their magnum revolvers have always held up well so their 1911's may be ok too.

The 1911 trigger is great, because it slides instead of pivoting the gun doesn't tug downwards when you jerk the trigger. So yes, it lets you screw up, and I like it. =)

9mm can be a great manstopper round with the right bullet, I just never liked it much because I learned it with military hardball ammo that wouldn't stop a good sized goat, let alone an angry man. Personal bias again. I also like the recoil curve of the .45 in a steel gun as opposed to the 9mm in a polymer, it's more of a hard push than the slap from a 9mm. Personal preference. Both are better than the .40 in a polymer compact, that thing beat you up on long range days.

As for shooting in competition with your carry gun I think it's a great idea as long as you do all your maintenance. You wouldn't want the one time you need it to be the time it jams because you just put 500 rounds through it at the range and didn't wipe down.


Glad to help.

I don't reload. In fact that is one reason for my moving towards .233/5.56, 12 gauge, and 9mm and away from .38, .45, 30-30 etc. I can afford it. For what it's worth you can get 9mm practice ammo for about 20 cents a round. First rate hollowpoints run about 60 cents a round if you find LE marked 50 round boxes online. For .223 steel cased Wolf Performance/Barnaul is cheap (20 odd cents), Hornandy's steel cased practice ammo is said to be very accurate. Prvi-Partizan (brass cased) in the 68 and 75 grain loadings is surprisingly accurate.

It may take a while to re-coup your money reloading 9mm. For the .223/5.56 it would probably be more worth it to replicate accurate ammo rather than bulk practice stuff. If you are worried about running steel cased ammo through your guns stick to the Wolf or Hornandy marked stuff. Wolf is an importer, but stands behind their product if it caused damage and Hornandy is a manufacturer that does the same.


Robert A


Well, I'll just leave this here:
Decision in response to Sig's protest about the ATF dropping the P250 from trials

Air Marshals pulled the P250 off service also. That model is a clusterfuck. If you have an older P220/P226 etc. it is likely gold though.

Now the ugly;
WARNING You are only a Marine and a Cop. You may be too sensitive to click the link below.

Issue with Taurus is that if you need to contact them, they have a very third world idea about customer service. Ordering a replacement yolk screw is becoming a problem for me.

I want to like Berettas, but the safety placement and trigger pull is completely unworkable for me. I am a southpaw, with small hands. Beretta makes great sporting shotguns though.

Damn straight. I do not understand why this design isn't copied more.

If he is considering a Glock or an M&P both designs are pretty forgiving of "looser" maintenance than a good 1911. Of course they also offer less refinement.


Robert A


I don't have a lot of time to discuss this stuff in detail, though I'd very much like to...
And I'm pretty sure I can't link to other forums (always gets edited out when I do)... So, RobertA or someone else mind e-mailing me (see profile details) so I can send you guys the link or something? Though RA may already be familiar with it anyway.

I originally wanted to start a thread on wound ballistics etc (I don't think we have one? It's vital understanding what actually happens when someone gets shot, stabbed and so on and how and when incapacitation can occur etc, especially to avoid the usual misconceptions in regards to calibers and particular guns), but typing out all that stuff when it's conveniently written down elsewhere by some of the top researchers in the field just takes up too much time...


Whether you stop a threat with the first round depends solely on factors you have not mentioned whatsoever.

You are confusing things here.

There are 2 ways to immediately incapacitate/stop someone, and they are not dependent on which caliber you are using as long as the particular load used allows for enough penetration depth.

The first (a CNS hit) requires enough penetration depth to get there in the first place (and obviously shot placement is a factor, but that is a matter of training and the particular situation) and just that.
If a 22 can get there, even that is very likely to cause quick incapacitation. Same for 5.7 or other such gimmick rounds.

The second is psychological incapacitation and that is a complete and utter wild card one should not rely on as factors you can control (bullet design/caliber etc) don't seem to have anything to do with it.

The 45 has no magical one-shot stop property compared to other calibers.

If you hit a guy's brain with a 45, and compare that to a hit in the heart with a 9, of course the one hit by the 45 will most likely drop instantly vs. the other guy who may well end up shooting you before he is incapacitated much later (barring a psych stop).
The opposite is also the case.

45 makes slightly bigger holes compared to a 9 for example, but for the purpose of immediate incap. that is not particularly important... It's more a factor when it comes to delayed incapacitation (and even then there are so many other factors involved... In reality, there just isn't much of a difference between the two in terms of how much tissue they crush. Not enough to affect which gun to choose... Pistols suck at reliably stopping threats quickly no matter the caliber)

Frangible ammo? Do you mean training ammo or RRLP? Why would you want to use that for self defense? RRLP has some specialized uses, but frangible training ammo behaves (from what I can remember) like FMJ's when used against human targets/soft tissue, no?

And again, there is no magical one-shot stop property of a bullet. "one-shot stop" is meaningless anyway. How long did it take to stop the threat after it was hit? Where was it hit? Etc.

Before you at least seperated immediate incapacitation and delayed incapacitation. This time you did not.

I'm not sure if this was said in jest or not?

.410 was an inferior self defense choice even before someone went and put it in a badly designed revolver to cash in on people's ignorance...

Overall, no disrespect intended to you, devildog_jim. Kind of feels like I'm attacking you or singling you out, but that is not my intention.

This is, however, exactly why we need to have a thread about terminal/wound ballistics. That stuff is quite well researched and documented (and of course there is an overhelming amount of misinformation out there as well). We do basically know how incapacitation happens and what bullets do, though the information is sadly not nearly as wide-spread as it should be, both among the general public as well as soldiers and LE personell, lawyers and people serving on juries on cases related to shootings etc...

Anyway OP, I'm hoping that Robert A or someone else will post the links for me...


I have always preferred the superior stopping power of the hand pressed 4 inch spherical round. the extra weight doesnt compromise flight to greatly and packs enough punch to warrant the increased reload time it also has greater resistance to melting than smaller loads allowing for greater time concealed or indoors letting you get the drop on people with a surprise attack

lookin into getting one of these beasts soon


Ok, just got an e-mail from Robert A, so hopefully we will be able to have a full discussion on this stuff soon, as it affects what to consider when looking for a carry gun and carry load for both citizens and LE etc.


Pfft, nothing compared to the taurus (what is it with these guys and their fascination with inferior calibers parked in impractical platforms?) raging judge 28 gauge revolver.

Throw that thing at someone and you bet they won't get up again.


On wound ballistics:

The best link I can find on this subject is this guy:

From the medical examiner's point of view you are more likely to put him down without needing followup shots using a big and slow caliber than a light and fast caliber, but it is also better to have a gun you can shoot well of a "lesser" caliber than one you can't in the "perfect" caliber.

Theory is great, but in practice when you shoot someone with a .45 they die, and the usually do it quickly enough that they don't shoot back much. Some loadings of 9mm do that too, but most commercial off the shelf .45 will work. Of course shot placement is #1.

When you shoot someone between the eyes they die fast, but most people can't hit a silhouette target at 3m under extreme duress so I'm going to assume that something that stops on a single center-mass shot is what we're looking for in a self-defense situation. Its the same as me preferring the 1911 trigger, it allows for error in situations where some error is almost guaranteed.

Edit to add: This guy find the difference to be less extreme, although still in favor of a .45 http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/9mm%20vs%2045.htm


If you look at the actual research data (yes, including plenty of morgue data) done by the leading guys on the subject, that just simply does not bear out... You get plenty of guys dropping from one shot from most calibers, as well as guys taking a mag or more... But that depends on many factors.

What do you believe to be the cause of that? What particular aspect of the better 9 mil loads vs the worse ones? What aspect of .45 does it? The size of the latter?

What do you think causes that immediate stop if you hit center mass instead of the CNS? When even full powered rifles and, yes, shotguns, cannot guarantee such a thing whatsoever?

You're not accounting for why it stops the person, and whether that has anything to do with the caliber used, or other factors.
I'm assuming you mean a hit to the chest cavity. Not much there that can incapacitate a person right away upon being hit simply via physical damage... Hits to the heart or blood vessels will require the person to bleed for long enough to cause a large enough drop in blood pressure before incapacitation occurs. There's the very slight chane of hitting the spine, but that is both a small target and well-covered.

What you are most likely getting when you see threats being stopped from the first round to the torso is a psychological stop, fainting. That has never truly been linked to caliber, some people faint from fairly unimpressive wounds from a 22 even, others take a full mag of .45's or bigger and just go on until blood pressure drops enough. That can take several minutes at times.

Are you familiar with the 1986 miami shootout (fbi) and the effect that had on modern terminal ballistics research?

Well, as soon as Robert A starts up the thread on terminal ballistics and posts the links I sent him, we can have a full discussion on this and I'll go through those articles you posted.

In an ideal situation a single hit is likely to do it. But how often does that happen... Perhaps more in LE situations (though then again, many of the craziest pistol-only gunfights have happened to LE officers).