“One Gun, One Carry and Master it” Part 2

“One Gun, One Carry and Master it” Part 2

Practical considerations

By Dennis Adler

Thin and thinner, injection molded holsters like this Galco Model CVS 226 barely add to the footprint of a gun like the Glock 17 Gen4, and have a curve to keep the rig close to the body. It is still a big gun but easier to conceal in a holster like this. At right, a very thin but well made leather belt holster. The MTR Leather belt rig it is made for a variety of small handguns. Holsters like the MTR are very comfortable but offer little in the way of pistol retention other than the soft leather contoured fit. Injection molded holsters like the Galco add some residual retention of the gun with the tight contoured fit around the triggerguard, and slide ejection port.

There are many considerations when you decide to carry concealed, aside from the moral and legal implications that each individual must address. The first of which is why? If this seems a bit intense for an airgun article, it is, because in this instance the airgun is substituting for a real gun and you have to have your priorities straight.  

I chose these two extremes to illustrate different needs of carry. Both guns are 9mm; the Glock has a 17+1 capacity, the Sig 10+1, still quite an advantage at almost half the size. Both CO2 models can be used for general training use and learning concealed carry with Micro-Compact and full-size semiautomatic pistols.

Making the decision to carry a gun goes beyond the visit to your local Police Chief or County Sheriff to request a carry permit, which, depending upon where you live, can vary from simple questions to providing more specific information and even having to attend and pass a handgun training class before a carry permit is issued. In some states, counties and cities, a carry permit is almost impossible to get, while in some states you don’t even need a permit. But we are putting the cart before the horse here.

An airgun is a training aid, and this is the first step you may take, let’s call it exploratory, before going to get a carry permit for an actual handgun; a gun you may not have even purchased yet. Think of it as one step beyond a test drive. And I can tell you that a test drive isn’t always enough. I once bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee because it looked great, dove nice, had plenty of cargo space and was good for winter driving in the snow. But after a few weeks I came to the conclusion that the seats were just awful, killed your legs on long drives, something that wasn’t apparent in a 30 minute drive around town. I ended up trading it in on another SUV. That’s a lot more expensive than buying a handgun and finding out you hate carrying it. But if you are considering a CCW permit and don’t already have a handgun, choosing an air pistol surrogate and trying it out for a few weeks or more is about as inexpensive a way as you can go. And the worst that can happen is you discover you’re not comfortable with it and have to try another. You can even use the holster for the air pistol, so that’s not a waste either. It’s Bianchi’s Law on a budget that didn’t exist when John wrote the book. So let’s look at some of the best options.

Aside from belt holsters worn at the 3 o’clock or 4 o’clock position, there are also “Small of the Back” or SOB holsters like this Galco model for the Glock. If you watch NCIS New Orleans, most of the characters use SOB rigs with their Sig Sauer pistols. The advantage is almost total concealment and relative ease of draw with the grips pointing up, requiring only one continuous motion to draw and present the gun. (Grip down rigs cause you to rotate your hand after drawing in order to bring the gun up, and in the process you cross over you own right leg (if right handed). SOB rigs are great for concealment but not great for sitting or driving for any period of time.

Carry big, carry small

I am going to illustrate several different holster and handgun combinations from articles I have done over the last 15 years to show you more options but for my test choices I am going with the Glock 17 Gen4 and Sig Sauer P365 and appropriate carry holster, as they represent two of the better size options; the Glock a little smaller than most full-size (higher capacity) semi-auto pistols, and the Sig small enough to use for training whether you get a Subcompact 9mm or a .380 Auto. The size difference with the Sig is almost negligible.

Smaller guns paired with rigs like the Galco Stinger are very easy to carry concealed. Here the holster is being used with an actual 9mm Ruger LC9. The Stinger is made for a variety of pistols including the Sig Sauer P365 (show in Part 1). Here the rig is at the 3 o’clock position over the hip. To move it back to the 4 o’clock position the holster would be behind the exposed belt loop. This would provide a little more concealment and is often more comfortable when driving (depending on the size of the gun and the wearer’s build). Depending upon the cover garment worn (sweatshirts in particular), the Stinger is also a good choice for an appendix carry in front of the hip.

What you have to explore with an air pistol substitute is comfort, practicality, and ability to conceal the gun entirely while still having quick and unimpeded access if a life threatening situation should occur. It may look simple enough in my photos, but it is not. Weather is a major factor which dictates clothing options (though even when it is hot most professionals must still suffer with at least a lightweight sport coat for work dress), and windbreakers are good options over a T-shirt, or just an unbuttoned casual shirt. Depending upon the size of the gun and holster design in almost every situation these options work for EDC. I have done it and can vouch for every one of them.

Chilly weather and winter make it easy, but heavy clothing can also sometimes impeded the time it takes to react and clear your gun from cover. Conversely, there are a lot of clothing options for CCW that take concealed carry into their design, but that is for another time.

A small gun like the Sig P365 or Glock 42 used here with a Bianchi Auto-Quick holster, placed just behind the hip, is easily concealed by a shirt and still easy to draw. A partial button down like I am using still allows quick access but eliminates the chance of wind blowing the shirt open and exposing the gun. You do need a shirt with long tails for this.

My first scenario is another based on experience. Carrying a full-size or Compact handgun in a belt holster is not difficult and why I chose the Glock 17 Gen4 CO2 model because it falls somewhere in between. Depending upon your build; tall, medium, or short, and this is not gender specific, long waisted or short, combined with weight and body mass, where you position the holster around your waist is crucial. The structure of the holster is also critical if it is not injection modeled or Kydex, which almost always add less mass around the gun than a comparable quality leather holster. Leather has advantages, too, and many designs are as trim as injection molded models.

A Glock in a Galco Combat Master belt holster rests close to the body. This is a Glock 19 which has a shorter grip and is preferable for concealment over the larger Glock 17. This would again be an easy gun and holster to conceal with a light jacket.

How you belt the holster around your waist is also important. Depending upon the placement and number of belt loops on your pants you can bring a belt holster closer to the body by running your belt through the back loop of the holster, then through a belt loop on your pants and finally through the front loop of the holster. This will cinch it closer and also allow a little fore and aft adjustment without compromising the fit. This is handy when transitioning from standing to sitting, whether to an office chair or behind the wheel of a vehicle. This can effectively allow you to shift the gun and holster from a 3 o’clock to a 4 o’clock position or vice versa as proves most comfortable. The less of the gun you feel against your side the better for comfort, more so if you are short waisted. Again, tried and proven in my experience. This combination naturally works best with a smaller gun.

Here is a trick to keep a belt holster tighter to the body if your belt loops align just right. Place the belt through the back loop of the holster, then through the pant’s belt loop, and last through the front holster loop…
…when you tighten the belt, it draws the holster tighter to the body. This would be very easy to conceal with a light jacket or even with an un-tucked shirt. This is a Walther PPS CO2 model in a Galco holster.

When this is done with a gun like the Glock 17, sitting options are more emphatic because the grips are more likely to press against the lower ribcage when sitting and if you are short waisted more so. I’m in the latter category and holster position along with holster style is crucial. The Galco Model CVS226 injection molded holster I have pictured with the CO2 model is one of the better choices. It is thin, and has a natural curve to the holster that keeps the gun close to the body and easier to cover. Of course, what works for me may be a total fail for you, and I have some other options in the photos, but the basics for all of them are the same. If it isn’t comfortable, eventually you will stop wearing it.

A setup like this makes a small 9mm or .380 very easy to carry and draw. This is one of my personal choices.

In Part three we’ll wrap up with some carry, drawing, presentation and re-holstering exercises. And remember, this is only important if you are seriously considering concealed carry, otherwise, enjoy your choice of air pistol and holster, because fun beats comfort and practicality!

A Word about Safety when Training

With realistic CO2 models, you must observe the same common sense rules as with an actual cartridge-loading firearm since they are indistinguishable from the air pistol. Do all CCW carry and drawing practice away from others and always with an unloaded gun, until you have become proficient and are ready to advance to drawing and shooting practice on a shooting range or your own private property. And never practice CCW carry in public without a carry permit, even with an air pistol. These are just good, common sense rules to follow for training with airguns. 

14 thoughts on ““One Gun, One Carry and Master it” Part 2

  1. No comments so far? Seems like a blog in UK…
    Anyway. I remember reading about a case of spine injury someone suffered falling on his back, because of a sob holster, back in the nineties. It made me think twice about my then favorite holster for a Gold Cup, besides the difficulties while sitting.
    In any case this series is a must read for anyone who considers carrying a gun.


    • Thanks Bill.

      SOB rigs do provide excellent cover, quick access, but are uncomfortable to wear sitting, and if you get knocked on your butt, an SOB rig is going to hurt. I have done falls (controlled for testing), rolls, jumps, etc., to evaluate holster retention. Because of the angle and closeness to the body, an SOB rig does perform better than most upright open top holsters worn on the hip or behind the hip in a fall. Of course, everything depends on the severity of the fall and a gun in an SOB rig between your back and the ground is not going to feel good!

      Dennis


  2. Some holsters look cool in movies but fall short in reality. You have to decide several things if you are legally carrying a firearm. Is your job carrying a handgun or are you carrying a handgun at your job, or about your regular activities. Small of back doesn’t work if you are in your car or at a desk. Appendix carry , is a work of fiction for the EDC gunshop tactifool commandos. It has no place in the real world. Are you carrying discreetly, will you be going somewhere like someone’s house or a restaurant where you will be taking off your jacket. Best bet for those situations is pocket carry of a two inch 38, small 9 like the Sig 365 Or what some nitwits refer to as a mouse gun, a properly loaded 380 like the Colt Mustang Pocketlite or a Ruger LCP 2. If you will be constantly wearing a long shirt or jacket then a flat holster like the pictured Galco or my favorite the Desantis number2 will work well with a compact semiauto. Define the mission , don’t let the mission define you


    • I have found that a small caliber (.380) semi-auto in a belt holster covered by a shirt will get you through most social situations (restaurants for example) but yes, a pocket holster is the best for all occasions but limiting in handgun size, and to some extent caliber, except for a few very compact 9mm semi-autos. For me, the jury is still out on Appendix rigs. I find them uncomfortable. A .38 revolver works, too, but wheelguns have a tendency to print more in a pocket than a flat-sided semi-auto. There are a couple of excellent pocket holsters designed for .38 revolvers that are reversed, flat side out, gun inside, that make them look like a wallet. This makes drawing a little harder, but the gun inconspicuous.


      • A hint for pocket holsters like Desantis or UncleMikes, is to put something flat like a small pack of tissues or something similar in front of the holster. Cargo type pants work well as do certain brands of pants or jeans. One of my buddies switched from pocket carrying aS&W60 to the Sig without much trouble concealing it, as his new edc. I find that Colt d frame with a Tyler t grip and the old service style grips , especially the short post 66 Agent grips make a 6 shot Colt conceal as well as a Smith j frame. For me the appendix carry is a no go. Limits mobility, easily exposes the handgun if wearing with most clothes. Don’t like the idea of a pistol pointing at my groin and femoral artery. Nope


        • I agree. I don’t like carrying a Glock in an inside the waistband rig for almost the same reason, besides that they are uncomfortable (call me old fashioned but I like guns with manual safeties if I’m sticking the barrel in my pants). But the Appendix carry is a pretty odd thing anyway. I tired it for a couple of articles and came away not impressed with the idea. Some people like it but not on my recommended list of carry options. Let’s give the topic a holster appendectomy.



    • Bill, I do both for EDC, depending upon what I am wearing, either the belt holster or the pocket holster with a .380 auto. The argument you will get from some corners is that a .380 does not have sufficient stopping power compared to 9mm. Sig seems to have made that all but a moot point with the P365 being almost the same size as a .380, and there are other 9mm pistols small enough for pocket carry, too. However, if you look at the latest .380 tactical ammo, higher velocity JHP rounds like Federal Premium 99 gr. HST, you have much better penetration and expansion than older FMJ rounds. Amazing how we can get so far off the topic of BB guns and yet be on topic for using them as training guns.


      • Dennis, the following statement does not make sense to me.

        “The argument you will get from some corners is that a .380 does not have sufficient stopping power compared to 9mm.”

        What?!

        Now understand, I don’t own a firearm and have never shot a firearm except for a 0.22 caliber rifle once or twice at a summer camp or a state fair arcade booth.

        As a laboratory scientist, I’m looking at that statement strictly from a math perspective.
        9 mm = 0.354 inch which is less than the 0.380. How can that 9 mm bullet have more stopping power than the larger 0.380 bullet?

        Most of you would probably say as well that the 0.22 long rifle doesn’t have enough stopping power, but aren’t many civilian AR rifles firing a bullet close to a 0.22 caliber? I remember reading about one of the mass shootings in the past year in which an AR style rifle was used and was shocked to read that the bullets were close to 0.22 caliber. The actual caliber had three decimals in the number, but I don’t remember the third decimal.

        So please help me understand this concept of stopping power and just how large the caliber must be to have enough stopping power. Especially now with larger caliber PCP airguns and the new Sig MCX Virtus PCP in 0.22 caliber, where is the line between PCP pellet guns with insufficient stopping power and PCP pellet guns with more than enough stopping power?


        • Charles, the bullet diameter for a 9mm (or 9x19mm) is .355 inches. Diameter for a .380 is also .335 inches. A .380 ACP is also known as a 9mm Browning (after inventor John Browning) and also as a 9mm Kurz (short). It is the case length and thus the amount of gun powder that can be used combined with the bullet grain weight that is significant. A 9mm cartridge is 1.169 inches in length and average bullet weight today is 115 to 124 grains. A .380 cartridge is .9843 inches in length and standard bullet weight today is 90 to 99 grains. So, the .380 is less powerful but new bullet technology has given it better performance than older .380 cartridges, but still not to the level of performance from a larger 9mm.

          Hope that answers your question,

          Dennis


        • Charles, I didn’t mean to overlook the rest of your question. A .223 rifle cartridge (.223 Remington also 5.56x45mm NATO for militray use with a heavier grain weight bullet) has a bullet diameter of .224 inches but is longer than a .22 LR bullet, which has an average grain weight of 40 gr., vs. the .223 weighing an average of from 40 to 75 gr., most in the 50 to 55 gr. range. The great distinguishing factor is the overall size of the cartridge case, which with a .223 is 1.760 inches long (not counting the bullet). This case holds a larger powder charge than a .22 LR case, which is only 1.000 inches long and much smaller in case diameter because a .223 uses a necked down case. A .223 also develops much higher pressures and velocities, 3,650 fps with a 40 gr. bullet and 3,240 fps with a 55 gr. bullet, whereas a .22 LR is around 1,025 to 1,240 fps. A .223 is a larger round capable of inflicting a far greater wound with more stopping power than a .22 LR, even though bullet diameter is nearly identical. Like the 9mm vs. the .380 ACP, it is the length of the bullet and its grain weight, combined with cartridge case length and powder charge (or type of powder) that determins respective velocities, ft. lbs. of energy, effective range and stopping power. You could make this same comparison with a .38 Special and a .357 Magnum.


          • Thank you. Those are facts I did not know.

            Nevertheless, I still keep asking myself, if large caliber PCP air rifles (say .357 and higher) are capable of killing deer and wild boar, would they not be just as lethal to a human and therefore potentially useful as a home defense weapon?


        • Just as black powder single shot rifles were used for hunting, as well as combat, in the 19th century, and modern single shot black powder rifles are used for hunting today (there are even black powder hunting seasons in some states), large caliber air rifles have also been used for hunting and combat since the 1800s (Lewis & Clark carried an air rifle on their 1804 to 1806 Corps of Discovery Expedition), and modern PCP air rifles are just as capable today for medium and even some large game. Human beings are equally susceptible to all kinds of weapons past and present. I wouldn’t recommend a PCP air rifle for home protection. Sport shooting and hunting is one thing, home defense is quite another.


  3. To get back on airgun training as the topic, it is past time for replica airguns manufacturers to offer more pocket pistols for training. Right now the Sig 365 stands alone as a subcompact 9mm that can be pocket carried. There should be Ruger LCP 2 for those who carry the 380 version., As Dennis stated,improved 380 ammunition makes the 380 round capable of better penetration and expansion. Unlike a 9 mm , it will not over penetrate, which can be a problem. While some scoff at the 380, it is head and shoulders above the 25 acp which it has made obsolete. Sig Air has shown that it is possible to make a subcompact 9 mm replica that uses a 12 gm Co2 cartridge. A Ruget LC9s , as well as pistols like the Glock 43 should be offered, and the new Springfield HellCat for those who like and carry the small9 mm. I see no reason why Umarex could not offer a pellet version of both the 2 inch Cobra 38 and the 3 inch 357 King Cobra. In the words of Captain Picard, make it so


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