“One Gun, One Carry and Master it” Part 3

“One Gun, One Carry and Master it” Part 3

Knowing what works

By Dennis Adler

There are a lot of videos, articles, and books on handgun training, shooting techniques and methods of carry, and most are well worth viewing or reading, but even armed with that knowledge, what works for you may not be the same. The purpose of this series is to offer the option of exploring different handguns and holsters that work for a majority of individuals interested in concealed carry. The process is to assist in making a good, practical choice in a gun and holster, and learning the fundamentals of gun handling. Starting with a CO2 pistol surrogate to a centerfire handgun will make the transition to an actual firearm much easier; total familiarization with how the gun holsters, carries, conceals, draws and aims, will take you up to the moment when you pull the trigger. No air pistol will take you past the last step. There is no substitute for the actual feel of recoil from a handgun, or the sound of gunfire (in reality you won’t be wearing hearing protection in a self defense situation, and the noise can be disorienting), and most importantly, even the best shooting experience with an air pistol will not equal the gratification of a bullseye hit with a .380, 9mm, or larger caliber round, or the immediate disappointment of finding out it is a lot harder with live ammo than BBs or pellets. Guns, too, can disappoint. The only thing air pistol training will achieve is a higher level of confidence going in, and afterward, if you have found the right gun and holster combination, the opportunity to practice handling skills with a matching air pistol. That is why air pistols (of various types) are being used in law enforcement training. The cost per session is a fraction of live fire training.

You can carry a 1911, I have done it successfully. Cold weather makes it much easier and with a Galco Combat Master, which rides fairly high, I was able to conceal the 1911 under the pullover shirt and jacket.

My take

Build a Custom Airgun

I have one favorite carry and drawing technique using belt holsters worn at either the 3 o’clock or 4 o’clock positions, regardless of the holster type or gun. This is what works best for me. I have tried other carry methods; shoulder holsters (and I occasionally wear one with the same carry gun I use in a belt holster), IWB holsters, which I don’t care for, same for SOB rigs, however, a small caliber pistol, say a Ruger LCP in a pocket holster, is all but invisible with just shirt tails for cover, so that works with smaller pistols as I have shown. You could even use the Sig Sauer P365 CO2 model in a pocket holster for practice.   

This is a familiar shot because it is part of the sequence you see in the upper right of every Airgun Experience header. Under the shirt in a belt holster is a Subcompact Beretta PX4 .40 S&W pistol. It is one of the smaller 9mm models but much larger than the new Sig Sauer P365. The shirt gives the gun full cover and can be buttoned mid way if the wind kicks up, still leaving easy access to the gun, as was shown in Part 2 of this series (yellow shirt).

In Blue Steel & Gunleather Bianchi makes a point about how holsters are worn, and this applies especially to belt rigs as I am discussing. “The type of holster will affect the position and accessibility of the gun handle. Holster design and function dictate the mode for drawing the gun once the handle is acquired. While basic drawing techniques are similar, attention to particular features of individual holster types will maximize the effectiveness of using each type.” As this applies to belt holsters, you have multiple types that range from the injection molded styles that offer better than usual retention of the gun without added retention devices, such as thumb break straps or Level II thumb or trigger finger releases; the latter designed to prevent a gun grab in a scuffle. Open top holsters, leather or molded, generally sit vertically, a few have a forward cant or adjustable cant, which is desirable. The cut of the holster and how much of the frame and grips (handle) are covered will also have an affect on draw. This again makes the case for trying several different holsters.

Brushing the shirt back with the shooting hand makes it easy to grasp the grips during the same motion…
Here I am drawing the gun from the holster as my support hand begins to move right…
…to get a two-handed hold, and prepare to bring the gun up to the ready position; this is all just about 1 second since I started.
Pushing the gun out and locking into a Weaver stance I have a hold on the target. This entire series of steps should be practiced over and over, with an unloaded pistol, beginning slowly one step at a time, and then increasing speed until the whole sequence becomes almost one continuous motion ending with the gun consistently pointed downrange on target. If you have the room and the privacy, this can be practiced in front of a mirror so you can study your movements and notice any hitches in the process. Sweeping clothing out of the way and not getting the gun hung up takes practice. You need to repeat this sequence until it becomes effortless. That is a foundation of the “One gun, One carry” rule.

I wanted to do some new illustrative work for this article but the weather is not cooperating, so I am using images from some actual (centerfire) gun tests I have done for magazine articles over the years. In my examples are a Glock, a 1911 and a Beretta PX4 Subcompact. This will give you an idea how some larger handguns can also be concealed and worn comfortably. If you can carry a 1911 concealed, you can carry just about anything. I will come back to this series later in the year using the Glocks and Sig P365 CO2 models, but the basics of what I am showing here are going to be the same.

In another article I went through an active shooting scenario, and here with a Glock, I am using the side of a vehicle as cover while I move into a defensive position. I already knew no one was coming up from behind me.
As the scenario was written, the threat came around the back of the vehicle with gun drawn (of course, there is no one actually there) and I fired two rounds from a kneeling position. This was a live ammo drill and you can see two spent shell cases still in the air just over my head. Training with air pistols makes a lot of this much easier and you have all the same elements except recoil and report. This setup was photographed several times and as you can tell the lighting changed and the color shifted, too. (That’s the stuff they fix in movies!)

Shooting distances

For this type of training silhouette targets like the B-27 are desirable because they show a distinct full-size upper body outline with the center mass clearly defined. An IPSC competition silhouette is an excellent alternative, or a large piece of cardboard with a 10-inch circumference circle in the middle will work, too.  

Targets for combat tests need to be large and the standard B-27 silhouette gives you a pretty realistic size. This photo is from some years back when I was reviewing the FNP 45 equipped with a suppressor. The target was shot from 25 yards with barely a sound other than the mechanical operation of the slide and considerably less recoil than an unsuppressed .45 ACP. Oddly, this is closer in feel and sound to firing an air pistol like the Sig Sauer M17 than you can imagine!

Not to put too fine of a point on this topic, this is a different type of shooting practice; self defense situations are unpredictable, so too are the distances, but given that CO2 pistols are only reliably accurate to 21 feet (10 meters with pellet models), two of the distances used in law enforcement training, 5 yards and 7 yards, lend themselves well to training with air pistol understudies.


Practice hones a skill set, but in the event of a confrontation that devolves into a life threatening situation, in the majority of cases there are only a few seconds to react, half of that is going to be spent drawing your firearm. And a shootout is rarely the desired outcome. Putting more distance between yourself and the threat is. My rule of thumb is never let a clearly obvious or even questionable adversary approaching you continue to close the distance, back away or move to cover when possible, allowing more time to retrieve your sidearm, if necessary, and gain an advantage. These are often very fluid situations that can change in an instant and over reacting is as bad as under reacting. Training is a very positive thing, but until you encounter an actual threat, and I hope you never do, it’s just training and theory, or as the old saying goes, “Everybody’s got a plan until they get hit.” This is just part of a plan, and one possible use for air pistols that are 1:1 copies of handguns you might choose as training options for concealed carry.

The Airgun Experience will return on Thursday, March 5th.

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.

1 thought on ““One Gun, One Carry and Master it” Part 3”

  1. There is another reason to buy and train with an airgun. Avoiding buyer’s remorse. A lot of new gun buyers will read , or more likely view a review of a handgun, have a must have urge ,iand go and buy it only to regret it. My first avoidance to an urge buying was years ago. In my impressionable early 20s, the S&W model 59 came out . Eclipsing the only real hicap pistol, the Browning High Power. Oh man ! Will have to get one of those. Luckily I stumbled onto one and compared it to a single stack 39. It felt like a brick in my hand and concealed on my 150 pound frame at the time, like a grapefruit. Pass.Before running to buy the latest hicap pistol, or a more practical alternative would be to invest in a holster for it, or borrow one , although if you are right handed the XD air pistols and a few others bundle the pistol with one. Wear it the way you expect you will , dress as you usually do not like some camouflage wearing tactical fool on a video, working in a gun store or alluding to being a current or former special ops dude. A few may be but the majority are blowhards. See if the pistol fits your hand , your lifestyle and the reason you are purchasing it. Contrary to videos of people throwing a hornet’s swarm of rounds at steel plates, what I was told by an old timer years ago still holds true. It is better to hit your opponent with the first of six rounds than the last last of fifteen . Test drives it before going to gunpowder.

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