Why Not Carry the Big Gun?, by Steve Collins

Carry the gun you want to fight with if you have to! What ever happened to carrying actual fighting guns? If I never see another article touting a ‘lightweight, easy to carry all day’ such and such, I’ll be ecstatic. When a fight comes, I want a chunk of gun in my hand, not some featherweight Mattel toy.

I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, or what you need to carry. Some people simply can’t carry a bigger gun by virtue of the fact of where they work or they live in an Non-Permissive Environment (NPE) where the discovery of a handgun would be disastrous. But to purposely carry something small, because you don’t want to be inconvenienced by it, is just foolish.

Decades ago, mens’ fashions were such that one could carry a full size revolver or semi-automatic pistol in complete concealment without much fuss. Men wore full cut suits with large pockets. It was much easier to carry guns such as a Colt New Service, an N-frame Smith & Wesson, or a Colt Government Model [1911]. J.H. Fitzgerald, legendary professional shooter for Colt, used to carry a pair of cut down Colt New Service .45 Colt revolvers in each of his front trouser pockets. These were called ‘Fitz Specials,’ and were the precursors to today’s short barreled concealment revolvers.

If you knew you were going to be in a fight, and couldn’t take a long gun, what would you want to have with you? I should think the biggest pistol you could control well and shoot accurately. That leaves out the keychain guns like the Beretta .25s, the Kel-Tec .32 and .380, the Seecamp .32 and the like. It also leaves out the 5 shot snubby revolvers. There are very few people, even gun people, who can shoot them well enough on demand to be effective with them. Yes, I have small guns, too. My Smith & Wesson 642 .38 Special has traveled many places with me, along with my NAA Guardian .32ACP. But they are not, in my mind, true fighting handguns. Please, please, spare me the “beware the man with one gun…” blah, blah, blah. The ones that spout that are trying to justify their unwillingness to look at armed conflicts as they really are. You don’t get to choose what kind of fight it will be; it’ll be a fight. You had better be prepared to handle it.

When folks go to the range, what do they normally shoot? The gun they like to shoot, which is normally a full sized pistol! They have no problem shooting a couple hundred rounds through them, but when they’re done, the big gun gets put away, and the little gun, which hasn’t been shot in six months or more, is the one chosen to protect life and limb. Do you see the problem here?

So, the answer is, carry the big pistol. By big, I’m talking about guns like a Glock 17/19 9mm, Glock 21 .45 ACP, the Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum, the 1911 .45ACP, the 4” K and L frame Smith & Wesson revolvers, etc. It’s not hard to carry or conceal them, as long as you put a little thought into it. This is not the place to cut corners; if you do, the whole process will fail miserably.

First, dress around the gun. Stop trying to look like the 17 year olds with skin tight jeans if you’re 40 and for cryin’ out loud, pull up your pants, Snoop Droopy Drawers! It isn’t attractive and it severely limits what you can carry concealed. Pick the gun and holster setup you are going to use, then shop for your clothes with them in mind. If you are using an inside the waistband holster, buy your pants a couple inches bigger in the waist to accommodate the holster. Get your shirts a size or two bigger to cover the gun and extra ammo on your belt, along with your jackets. If you wear a suit, find a tailor who isn’t afraid of guns, or who deals with police officers on a regular basis. Take the gun, holster and belt, and whatever accessories you are going to use to the tailor, they will cut the suit around it.

Next, having a quality holster and belt is critical. You spent a bunch of money on your pistol, why are you buying cheap holsters? There are many good holster makers out there; you don’t have to look really far to find one. Be ready to spend $100-to-$200 on a quality holster, belt and ammo pouches. Kydex is all the rage these days, and you can usually get these holsters at a lower price, simply because it’s less expensive and time consuming than leather to work with. It is also more water and weather resistant, especially if you are carrying inside the waistband. On the downside, they aren’t that attractive, they are hard on the finish of your gun, and if the holster is inside your pants, it can be hard to get accustomed to their rigidness. Leather holsters are easier on the gun and the body, and can be made as plain or as attractive as you want, but suffer from getting weather beaten, soaked in sweat and generally require more maintenance. Many of the leather craftsmen out there are backlogged, so you may have to wait some time to get their merchandise, also. Kydex makers can usually get their goods to you in a couple of weeks, or less.

If you don’t have a good belt, you’re setting yourself up for failure. I normally wear a 1-¾” nylon or leather belt, since I’m in jeans most days. If your belt loops won’t accommodate that big a belt, it’s an easy thing to find narrower belts that are designed to carry a gun. The cheap belts you find at the local super store out there won’t cut it. I know it’s a pain for gun shops to stock a bunch of belts in different sizes, but they are really doing the public a disservice by not having them there for people to try out. At the very least, it’d be good if the guys behind the gun counter had some knowledge about what is out on the market, instead of just what’s in the store and you will be lucky if they even know that.

Spare ammo carriers are given short shrift all the time, and I really don’t understand why. Probably because there is a segment of the gun carriers out there that doesn’t carry spare ammo! If you fall into that category, you need to go back to school, ‘cause you still haven’t figured it out yet. Carrying spare ammo is easy, whether it be on a six round loop carrier for revolver ammo, or a magazine pouch or two on your off hand side. The same holster makers will make ammo carriers to go with them, and you should buy everything at one time to make sure it all fits together.

Tell you what, next time you go to the range, do all your shooting, all your drills, with the little gun. Shoot at point blank range all the way out to 100 yards. See how difficult it really is. If you want to fall in with the ranks of the gun shop and keyboard commandos who have never been in a fight, who always rattle off the “all you need is a two-inch J-frame, ‘cause all fights happen at close range,” mantra, go right ahead. However, if you are willing to look at things objectively, and really think it through, you’ll see it’s better to have the bigger gun with you.

Stephen J. Collins
Suarez International, Inc. Staff Instructor
NRA Certified Firearms Instructor
Cellular: (706) 593-0783