Tactical Tip Of The Week
During the last two “Tactical Tip Of The Week” articles, I began to discuss the issue of selecting a handgun. If you haven’t read those two postings, it would be beneficial to read them prior to reading this weeks posting. You can find the prior postings in my website www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page – Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I have also teamed with Ian Kinder of Live Safe Academy to produce a podcast and video presentation on this topic. They are available on his website www.livesafeacademy.com.
We have discussed the selection process for a handgun that will be worn for duty/open carry and home defense purposes. Let’s look at another mission/role of a handgun – concealed carry.
Selecting the right concealed carry handgun can be a confusing task since there are many viewpoints and believes about this issue. My intention is to present information that can help you make an informed decision based upon a valid analysis of your needs. I have seen many people brought down a path that caused them to select a handgun that initially seemed to be a good choice only to find out after spending a large sum of money that their choice really didn’t work out for them. Let’s examine the mission/role of the concealed carry handgun using the same matrix I used to discuss the duty/open carry and home defense handgun. Here is the matrix again:
“Size vs. Concealment vs. Proficiency”
One important mission/role for our concealed carry handgun is to provide us the ability to defend ourselves against a spontaneous attack initiated by someone else when we are in imminent danger of serious bodily harm and/or dead. A handgun IS a lethal force instrument and when we deploy it, it means that the scenario we are in requires that level of force to be available to defend ourselves.
Also, we may find ourselves having to deploy our concealed carry handgun to defend someone else that is facing imminent danger of serious bodily harm and/or death. In this article, I won’t get into some of the complex issues about this type of scenario and getting involved in it. That is a separate topic and critically important one for another day.
Now that we have discussed the mission/role of the concealed carry handgun, we need to take a little time to discuss the environment that we will have a high probability of operating in when we deploy out concealed carry handgun. Here are a few parameters that may define that environment:
- The incident is usually spontaneous in nature
- No matter what level of situational awareness a person may have, the person carrying concealed will oftentimes be reacting to the lethal threat posed by the attacker.
- The distances involved in the shooting will generally be at close range. This can be from contact distance where there is a possibility of having to engage in a physical confrontation prior to drawing the concealed handgun to being within 7 yards from the suspect.
- Close-quarters combat shootings are generally EXTREMELY FAST, occur in poor visibility conditions, and the defender is not behind cover.
- Due to the defender’s perception that a life-threatening event is happening to them and perceives his/her life is in jeopardy, the Sympathetic Nervous System can activate causing potential difficulties with motor skills. Simple tasks may become more complicated and what might be smooth actions in practice may not be as smooth in combat. The handgun we select, the positioning of it concealed on our body, the holster we are using and the clothing we are wearing can also add to the complexity of deploying our concealed carry handgun in this high-stress, high-speed environment.
Of course, there are more issues involved in the environment. I just wanted to get some thoughts out for everyone to consider. Our selection of a concealed carry handgun can be guided and influenced by some of what was discussed above.
Now let’s get into some specifics about selecting a concealed carry handgun for YOUR PERSONAL NEEDS not the needs of someone writing an article or teaching a class professing what works for THEM.
First let’s look at the issue of “Size vs. Concealment”. There are several factors that will help determine if a particular handgun is the appropriate size for your concealed carry needs. Up front, I will address the issue that I see professed by many in the concealed carry community. The issue is carrying a full size handgun as your concealed carry choice. If it works for you, DO IT!! But please, don’t lay that on everyone else because it works for you. Instead, let’s offer advise that can be more useful for those who have different needs and/or perspective. Let’s also refer back to the information I included above about the environment you will be operating in when you are carrying concealed.
Here are a few considerations to analyze when making your selection:
- When we are selecting the handgun we want to use for concealed carry, we have to analyze how we intend to conceal it. The way we dress will have a tremendous impact on what we can hide. Business suits, casual wear, hot climate clothing, cold weather climate clothing and being male or female will have to be factored into the equation.
- Body type can be a factor. Tall, short, slim, extra material around the waist, male or female will also play a part in what will work for a particular individual’s physical characteristics.
- The design of the particular handgun will also be important. Some handguns are wider than others, taller than others, flatter than others and some are longer than others. Until you have the opportunity to physically wear the handgun in the exact holster and location you intend to use and it is concealed under the clothing you intend to wear, you will not know how it works for you. Also, as I wrote above, you may have to dress differently for work, social events or simply running the errands. You will need to check how the handgun conceals in each of those scenarios. The size of the handgun will be an important issue to pay attention to when you are making your selection.
- Comfort level is also an important issue. If the size of the handgun causes you to be uncomfortable while carrying it concealed, it may cause the handgun to remain home rather than on your person. The handgun AND holster selected will have a great impact on the comfort issue.
While there are more factors, I will also like to bring up the requirement for absolute concealment. The last thing you want (especially in today’s environment) is to allow someone to see your concealed handgun inadvertently. For both a law enforcement officer and civilian legally carrying concealed, it can be a potentially dangerous situation if someone sees your handgun when it supposed to be concealed.
The last part of the matrix is “Proficiency”. Size of the handgun can pose a problem with proficiency for many people. This issue could take up a few chapters in a book so I will try to hit some key points with the understanding that there are a lot of issues when we talk about proficiency.
There has to be a balance between the size of the handgun as it relates to the type of clothing worn, body dimensions of the individual and the location the handgun will be placed on the body. This is something that the individual will have to honestly address and make decisions based upon reality not fantasy. YOUR reality may be much different from my reality or the next person’s reality.
Let’s put it into a perspective that might help in making a choice. We have discussed in this article and in the others I have been posting that combat shootings tend to be close-quarters events. So, as it relates to proficiency, given proper training, would there be much difference between hitting a threat that is 3 yards from you with a full size Glock 17 or a Glock 19 or Glock 26? How about the difference between a full size 1911, Commander or Officer size model? I could go on with comparisons but the point is that the distances involved is relatively close to the threat so when you make a selection, it should be based upon its true mission – personal, close-quarters protection. Training with ANY handgun selected will determine how well an individual will deploy the handgun from concealment and stop a threat. It has been my personal experience as a trainer that in close-quarters, there is very little, if any, difference between a person’s performance with a handgun of similar make with a 5 inch, 4 inch or 3.5 inch barrel. Yes there is a point where there can be a difference in one’s ability to be as proficient with a smaller handgun as opposed to a larger one, but the environment for combat shootings with a handgun tend to be at a distance where it doesn’t make a significant difference provided proper training has been received by the shooter.
So, to sum this up, I would like to once again emphasize that the handgun selected has to match the mission/role, type of clothing worn, body dimensions, and the ease of deploying the selected handgun from the holster you have chosen to wear. Also, the positioning of the handgun on your body and the ability to conceal the handgun as you go about your business will affect the size of the handgun you can conceal.
DO NOT feel guilty or under-gunned because you select a Glock 19 over a Glock 17 or a compact version of any full sized handgun. You have your own requirements and make your decision based upon YOUR needs.
I hope this helps you make this important choice. Be safe.
A safety tip from Lou Chiodo