Choosing a New Summer Carry Handgun

daily_concealed_carry_tips

The weather’s changing and so is my carry weapon. Every year I switch from my winter carry, a Glock 17 (a rather large and heavy 9mm) to something lighter and easier to conceal. The Glock is easy enough to conceal under a jacket or coat, but in the summer, shorts and a tee-shirt just don’t lend themselves to conceal a gun that big (and heavy).

For the last couple of years, my summer carry has been a Ruger LCP (with Crimson Trace laser). It slips easily into cargo short pockets (in a DeSantis pocket holster) and doesn’t “print” at all. A concealed handgun is said to “print” when the outline of the gun becomes noticeable – a no-no in most jurisdictions. The little Ruger is also light and small.

I’d prefer the more powerful 9mm Glock to the .380 caliber Ruger, but the Ruger wins for the concealability – and therein – lies the story.

Those of us who chose to carry always have a number of decisions to make when it comes to selecting what to carry and this essay is about my decision to switch to a new pistol.

I’m fortunate to live in a relatively safe neighborhood in a relatively safe city. Plano, Texas is perennially among the Top Ten safest cities in the country.

Now that doesn’t mean that I’ll be impervious to a mugging, robbery, home invasion, or carjacking, but the odds are in my favor. Thus, I don’t feel like I need a 1911, cocked and locked at the ready at all times. I can allow myself to be a little more relaxed; as in Cooper’s Condition Yellow.

I carry a handgun because I know that I’ll be viewed as a “target of opportunity.” I’m a smallish, obviously old guy and no longer able to ward off a younger and larger attacker. Neither can I run away, since breathing problems prevent either much speed or distance on foot.

So, if some bad guy is looking for an “easy mark,” he may view me as such. Unfortunately for him, he won’t find me so willing to give up my hard earned cash or automobile, so he may find himself shot – accurately and often. I do fully intend to defend myself and others in my vicinity.

That is all a preface to my first criteria for choosing a new carry pistol. It must be comfortable to carry while wearing shorts and a tee-shirt and of course, it must not print. That means as small and light as possible while remaining comfortable to shoot and retaining adequate ammo capacity – and it will be a 9mm.

There’s one more important factor involved and it goes back to comfort. I found in the winter that the Glock was troublesome and uncomfortable enough that I didn’t carry it all the time. A quick trip to the grocery store might mean that I’d be defenseless. Whereas, in the summer, the little Ruger was so easy to carry, I’d never leave home without it. A lot of guys will maintain that they’d be naked without their big bore .45, but find that it’s often back in the nightstand instead of on their person. A comfortable gun is one that you’ll carry – a heavy uncomfortable one will very likely be back at home when you need it. This new choice will be with me at all times everywhere I go (within the legal extent of the law).

The search was on.

The Internet is a wonderful thing; you can view videos of gun tests, check out reviews, and read forums. All of that is helpful to narrow down a field that is probably in the 15-20 range of candidates for my purposes.

I especially like the Hickok45 videos. He’s a very knowledgeable gun guy who tests a lot of handguns and gives an unvarnished opinion of his likes and dislikes, but there are a lot of others who also review guns as well. The general “Best Carry Guns” reviews for the most part, don’t impress me; most of them look as if they’re just shilling for some of the manufacturers.

The forums are generally good ‘cause you’re getting first-person stories about why they like or dislike certain guns, you just have to take them with a grain of salt. You can become aware of specific problem areas via the forums, since the owners with troubles are pretty vocal.

This is how I narrowed down my choice. I then called around to various gun ranges to see who might have my first choice available in their rental pool. When I found one, it turned out that they also had the two versions of the pistol available for sale and at a good price.

I went, I shot, and I bought. The gun felt good in my hand, it pointed naturally and I shot it well. I was sold.

Ruger LC9S

I bought a Ruger LC9s. The “s” version is a newer striker-fired remake of the LC9 that’s been around for some time. The LC9 was not a top-rated carry pistol primarily because of the long pull and heavy double-action trigger. The new “s” variety now uses a striker-fired system and the trigger is excellent. The LC9s is fast becoming one of the top choices for 9mm concealed carry.

I shot it once since the test firing and am planning another trip to the range tomorrow. So far, accuracy, feeding, ejection, were all great; no negative issues at all.

A couple of other items of note: as gun nuts know, we always end up with multiple holsters for our guns, not for bragging rights or just to waste money, but because fitting a handgun and holster combination to one’s needs is subjective. It’s got to hold the gun securely, it must protect the trigger, it’s got to be easy to attach, and it must be comfortable to “wear.”

I bought a nice DeSantis IWB (Inside Waist Band) holster first and it seemed to fit my needs pretty well, but was a little bulky. I’d noted that on one of the video reviews of the LC9s, the reviewer said that he just bought a new holster that he just loved, a Kydex IWB from Ted Cori. Long story short – I bought one and THAT has become my carry combination. I love it. It’s thinner than the DeSantis and is more suited for concealment under a tee-shirt and inside-the-waist-band mode.

But wait – there’s more!

The other thing that I’ve found is that I’m switching to appendix carry.

What! Appendix carry? Are you loco? You’ll shoot off your man-parts!

The truth of the matter is that the barrel of the LC9s is actually pointed more at my femoral artery than my “junk,” and that’s even worse when you think about it. But, that’s an overstated worry. The Ted Cori holster completely covers the trigger and the Ruger has a manual safety, in the usual 1911 position in addition to a Glock-like safe action trigger as well. And of course, I know that the finger doesn’t touch the trigger ‘till the sight is on the target.

So, obviously I’m not concerned about the gun going off and doing damage to my “goodies” or my femoral artery. I find it very comfortable and it affords several advantages too. It allows easy access to the gun while seated – including in the car, it places the gun in a position where it is more difficult for someone else to grab it from behind and it is very concealable under a somewhat baggy tee-shirt – all pluses. The Ted Cori holster is easy to slip into my shorts and remains where I position it.

And for those gun people who might be interested, the LC9s is rated for +P so I’m loaded with Speer Gold Dot 124 gr. +P ammo. It’s rated at 1220 fps and 410 muzzle energy – that’s more stopping power than standard FMJ .45 rounds. The Gold Dot is a LE (Law Enforcement) round and is NYPD approved.

Now, I feel appropriately dressed for the entire year, both summer and winter, no need to change anymore.

That’s my story an I’m stickin’ to it.

Garnet92.



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8 replies

  1. This is the first time i have realized that you can theme your gun to the season. Great tip.

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    • It’s not necessary for those who live where the temperatures don’t vary much, but here in Dallas we can have cold winters (20’s-30’s) where because of heavier clothing you can carry some large firepower, but then we can have summers with 100’s not uncommon. In the summer, wearing t-shirts and shorts, carrying a full-sized Glock or 1911 isn’t going to work and that’s why I chose to pack a mousegun in my shorts rather than go “naked.” Makes sense to me.

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  2. Always looking for good carry arms. I’ve got 2 revolvers, 38, one with laser. With my arthritis I have trouble chambering with a pistol. Finger weakness. So, gotta be my revolversssssss.

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    • Understand tannngl, that’s reason enough to carry a wheel-gun. A bad guy in the hospital (or the morgue) won’t care whether the source of his holes was a revolver or a semi-automatic pistol.
      And BTW, thanks for your Twitter feeds! I formerly name you as Vice President in charge of Tweets!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I live in the desert southwest (Phoenix metro area), where we have basically two seasons — Summer and Not Summer. So the need for a “Winter” gun is not much of an issue. My EDC is truly an ‘every day’ carry. Depending on planned activity, I move between appendix and 5 o’clock carry. (I don’t want a mood-spoiler answer if a dancing partner coyly asks that infamous Mae West question, “… or are you just glad to see me?”)

    I found the original LC9 an awkward tool to use with my large hands. I was not impressed with the long, stiff pull of its double action. Kudos to Ruger for going with a striker action on this latest offering. My final choice ended up a S&W Shield 9mm. For me, the ergonomics were better than others in its class, and having that eighth cartridge in the magazine instead of the pipe was also a big plus. (No one ever complained about still having unfired ammo after a gunfight.)

    I also use Speer Gold Dot, but standard pressure, 115 gr rounds. The muzzle velocity difference is marginal with the short barrel, while muzzle flash seems markedly greater for the +P. Since a defensive gun use in low light conditions is the more common occurrence, that was also a deciding factor. Finally, as you noted, there is the PD factor. If I ever find myself defending my use of a firearm, I don’t want some prosecutor, or plaintiff’s lawyer, questioning my choice of ammunition. It will be a lot easier to say, “They’re the same the police use,” than trying to justify some “Little Tailor” specialty megadeath ammo promising “seven in one blow” results.

    Most ballistic data on ammunition has come from testing under the “FBI Standard,” using full size weapons. A very helpful comparison of defensive loads fired through more concealable handguns can be found here:
    http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/self-defense-ammo-ballistic-tests/

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    • Been there and you’re right, Phoenix is either hot or hotter! Well, I’m pleased to finally have one rig that I can feel comfortable with regardless of the weather outside. You’re right, I only shot one once, but the original LC9 was not among the top tier of carry 9’s. Interestingly, the Shield was my 2nd choice and only because the LC9S fit my hand better. The two are comparable in many respects and I would have been fine if the Shield had won my personal shoot-out.

      I’ve carried the Gold Dots in 115 gr in my Glock and I haven’t actually fired the 124 +P yet – that’ll be Tuesday (it was planned for today, but circumstances killed that), so the jury is out on that. Nevertheless, I’ll be better protected with the 9 as opposed to the .380 of the LCP. And you bring up a good point – that of carrying something that is police approved. I carried an LAPD-approved .380 load in my LCP and I’ve always been warned about carrying hand-loads for that very reason – even if you personally know them to be of high quality.

      As I stated to Curtis in a previous reply, I’m constantly impressed with the seriousness of the carrying public (in general). As I’ve told my grown children, carrying a handgun is not a game or some misplaced macho thing, it is deadly serious. My carrying friends are of a similar mindset.

      Thanks for a great comment, Salty.

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  4. We’re members at FrontSight, and have been thru training there multiple times. I’m an NRA Life Member, and have my CHL, but my wife has procrastinated.

    We’re in a high value industry, thus are more prone than the average couple for home invasion and criminal targeting. We wanted interchangeability of weapons, hands, ammo, mags, etc. in the case of such an unfortunate event. As a result our first consideration was ease of use for my wife, who is smallish, (I’m NOT!) should she need to resort to MY gun in an incident. We still wanted decent stopping power, so decided that a 9mm was best. (I’d have preferred the .40.) We bought S&W M&P 9mm Compacts. They are easy enough for her to handle well, easy to conceal, and a controlled double tap will stop most threats, at which we are both proficient. We didn’t feel that .380 had the requisite stopping power, as we’d more likely be dealing with multiple assailants, not just a mugger.

    Weapon and caliber choice depend on multiple issues. So, do as Garnet did. Study it up on the internet, and test fire the weapon(s) you think you might like before actually purchasing it. Get VERY familiar with the Cooper Color Code of Awareness, as it is an invaluable tool for living a long, healthy life in less than safe environments. Unfortunately, that is becoming a greater issue than I ever dreamed would occur as a child. Once you own a weapon, train with it! And stay trained! Be sure to learn where and when you are entitled to use deadly force under law to avoid unintended consequences.

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    • FrontSight – I’m impressed! It’s always gratifying to me to see the level of maturity in our concealed carrying public. The gun control folks constantly harp on gun fights in the streets, people accidentally shooting themselves, etc. to gen up fear about those of us who are taking advantage of our 2nd Amendment rights to self-protection. Fortunately, time has proven them wrong, time and time again. In fact, at least in Texas, CHL holders commit crimes at a fraction of the rate committed by the average citizen – we are the law-abiding people that others should welcome to any gathering.

      Your choice of the S&W M&P was an excellent one – it was my second choice. I’d already shot the Shield and liked it, but when I tried the LC9S, that sold me. I just found it fit my hand better. That again, should be a primary test for buying a new gun. You MUST test fire them. Simply having the tech specs or looking good or having the best price mean nothing if you’re not comfortable with shooting the gun.

      Excellent comment Curtis, full of pithy information, especially the part about continued training. You have to shoot often enough to maintain your skills and build your confidence that the weapon and your instincts will both operate properly if, God forbid, your life ever depends on them.

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