Hanging nicely: a practical tip for pistol-wearers

I made a minor but useful discovery about pistol holsters this morning. It may be something a million shooters have figured out sooner, but since it took me over a year of constant carry to notice there are probably at least as many who haven’t. Therefore the following tip.

I use several carry methods depending on conditions. One of them is a DeSantis MiniSlide, a smallish leather belt holster designed for concealed carry; my belt threads through slots in the holster’s side flaps. While this rig is generally satisfactory, it has shown some tendency to slide around, and adjusting the rig when it slips into an uncomfortable position is something I prefer not to do in public.

This morning it occurred to me that I could cut down on the shifting by threading my belt through the rear slot in the holster, under one of the keeper loops on my Levis, and then through the front slot of the holster. This does two good things: (1) it snugs down the belt between the holster slots, slightly increasing the inward pressure on the flaps so slippage is decreased, and (2) it prevents the weapon from sliding any further forward or back than the point at which one side will hang up on the keeper in the middle.

That is all.

47 thoughts on “Hanging nicely: a practical tip for pistol-wearers

  1. I once found that a pair of jeans that I wore infrequently had two belt loops that were ideally located to both cinch-down my holster and also prevent it from sliding fore-aft at all. It takes a bit of sail-making-like effort to sew an extra loop on a new pair, or to move one or another loop, but it’s worth it, IMHO.

  2. Some questions I have about carrying that Googling hasn’t answered: (I eventually mean to start packing; right now my university’s draconian and probably illegal weapons policies hinder me; in the meantime I’m curious.)

    How heavy are pistols? How much of a hassle is it to carry them around all the time, compared with, say, an SLR? How do you conceal them so that you can get them out quickly, and especially without a risk of accidentally pulling the trigger when getting it out? Etc. Thanks.

  3. Exactly HOW long did it take you to figure that out? Though I now regularly use a Forbus paddle rig for my Glock 27 – I formerly used a belt-slide rig to carry the Colt Commander .45 I favored, and ALWAYS stabilized the rig by using the belt, belt loop, belt technique. In fact, every cop I ever worked with or knew used this manner of stabilizing his carry rig – on duty or off. An improperly secured carry rig is dangerous in more ways than one. It’s unsafe and poor practice, and it could get you killed. The biggest mistakes I see civilian gunners commit regularly are an improper belt, i.e., not a heavyweight belt made to carry the weight of a gun, and a poor, unsubstantial holster. The next biggest mistake is this tendency many have to experimenting with all many of “designer” rigs placed on various parts of the body, in line with current movie/TV “heroes.” Wrong. An experienced gunner – one who carries for a living – knows there is only ONE place for your weapon of choice to be and that is strong side, riding slightly behind the hip bone, securely fastened with a proper, heavyweight gun belt, in a proper retention-style holster.

  4. How heavy are pistols? How much of a hassle is it to carry them around all the time, compared with, say, an SLR? How do you conceal them so that you can get them out quickly, and especially without a risk of accidentally pulling the trigger when getting it out? Etc. Thanks.

    They weigh less than regret. :)

    I personally carry a Glock 19 with 2 or 3 extra magazines every day. The G19 rides in either a Comp-Tac CTAC or a Grandfather Oak Hidden Companion holster and the spare mags are either in my front or back pocket. I cheat a little by dressing down. I’m usually wearing cargo pants / shorts or jeans, an undershirt, and an untucked camp or loose golf or t-shirt. I’ve carried like this every day for 3 years.

    If you have to tuck in your shirt, you can use a CTAC with the right clips and it’s damn near invisible. Draw is a little slower. If you work in a dress-up environment, you can conceal anything you want under a sport coat or blazer.

    If you’re really curious, get an airsoft pistol of the model you’re interested in. They run about $100 and are close enough to the shape and weight of the real thing that you can put them in a real holster and test it out around the house.

    Make sure to get a real belt! Department store belts are the suck. If it’s not double thick leather or a heavy instructor’s belt, your gun will flop around and be generally uncomfortable.

    Anyway, the biggest hassle is complying with local laws, and that prickling of the neck “Everyone’s watching me!” you feel when you first start carrying. You get over it.

  5. David asked:”How heavy are pistols? How much of a hassle is it to carry them around all the time, compared with, say, an SLR? How do you conceal them so that you can get them out quickly, and especially without a risk of accidentally pulling the trigger when getting it out? Etc. Thanks.”

    First – the word “pistol” refers to semi-auto handguns. There are also revolvers to consider, as your choice leads you. In fact, many gunners are returning to one of the more modern dreivations of revolvers because of their inherent “KISS” quality – they ALWAYS work, and should a bad round not function a simple squeeze of the trigger will bypass that round and bring up another one. However, modern ammunition renders that old worry about moot.

    To your point, a handgun as opposed to a rifle? ANY rifle? Not even close, but apples and oranges. Each has a purpose vastly different from the other. Handguns can weight very little, or they can weight a lot – depending on type, amount of rounds carried, caliber of those rounds (obviously, 10 rounds of .45acp 230gr will weight substantially more than 10 rounds of something in a .32acp) Concealment is something of a fine art – many don’t ever learn proper concealment techniques (sometimes intentionally, sorry to say), others master it. It would take a book to describe the best techniques, and has. Drawing without an ACD? Simple … NEVER place your finger within the trigger guard when drawing, or indeed any time until the decision is made to fire the weapon. Any holster that allows you to put your finger within the trigger guard is junk and should never be considered for concealed carry. Ever.

    Then there is the “proper” caliber to carry issue. Some are of the opinion that any caliber is good enough if you are experienced and cool enough (self defense is vastly different than punching holes in paper, believe me) to place your shots. That’s wrong on many counts. Some are of the opinion that the biggest damned gun you can manage is the way to go. Also wrong. The best gun to carry is the one that fits you and your needs the best and one you can handle and fire with accuracy. My current carry gun – after 40 years of carry as a cop and civilian – is a Glock 27 .40S&W, with 2 extra magazines, all in Fobus paddle rigs. Comfortable, safe, durable. Then you practice, practice, practice. Difficult with the current prices of ammo, but how much is your life worth?

    Your difficulty with your university should not generally interfere with your ability to exercise your constitutional right to carry off campus.

  6. I can’t second pdb’s comment about getting a good belt enough – it makes a world of difference. An instructor belt (like the Wilderness belts) are especially nice, because the velcro lets you adjust to exactly the tightness you want, rather than being forced to pick the nearest belt hole.

    As far as safely drawing from concealment, any worthwhile concealed carry license course should cover and practice exactly that.

  7. Yeah, plenty of us figured this out a long time ago, and passed it on…but it’s a good tip for the newcomers.

    Do you not have a good shooting/CC community around you? This kinda stuff is grade-school knowledge…I’m stunned it took you that long to figure out.

    For similar reasons, if you have a shoulder rig, consider snapping the holster behind a belt loop slightly behind your hip bone. It helps add tension to assist the draw.

  8. pdb>Make sure to get a real belt! Department store belts are the suck. If it’s not double thick leather or a heavy instructor’s belt, your gun will flop around and be generally uncomfortable.

    This is probably true. I’ve never noticed it, because I like to wear relatively thick leather belts with a natural finish; this is probably close to what you think of as an “instructor’s belt”.

    dan>Do you not have a good shooting/CC community around you?

    Alas, not really. There are a lot of shooters in my area but I don’t have regular contact with that subculture. Too busy doing geek things.

  9. To follow pdb’s [good] advice about belts…I recommend a Liger gun belt – from Maxpedition. I have a 3 year-old belt that has carried a full-size .40 cal Sig in side-snap scabbards or IWB all that time. The aesthetic surface texturing is worn in understandable places, but the belt is ramrod-straight, no warping. The advantage of Liger is they are serious supportive gun belts, but they are the same thickness as a normal belt. They come in a variety of styles to match your circumstances. Mine is a black/black that is very versatile for many modes of dress.

  10. >The best gun to carry is the one that fits you and your needs the best and one you can handle and fire with accuracy. My current carry gun – after 40 years of carry as a cop and civilian – is a Glock 27 .40S&W,

    David, Bruce’s advice is sound, and the weapon he points at would be near the top of my list of choices. But let me give you a slightly more general heuristic.

    In the U.S. Marines, there’s a bit of folk wisdom that goes “Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun the caliber of which does not start with a 4.’ This takes a little decoding; what they’re actually recommending is pistols in the .45 and .40 range, which hit sweet spots on several different tradeoff curves. Heavier-caliber pistols like a Magnum 44 are so loud and so physically punishing to shoot that your control and accuracy is likely to go to hell after the first detonation; lighter-caliber pistols may fail to transfer enough kinetic energy to incapacitate or kill.

    My own choice is .45, but I like .40s just fine. In particular, the Glock Model 27 Bruce refers to has excellent targeting precision and repeatability; I can target-shoot with one of those slightly better than with a .45 of the same barrel length, preferring the .45 because I train for close-range self-defense in which the slightly higher accuracy of the .40 at longer ranges is not really relevant. Since Bruce mentions having carried a .45 for many years, I am in little doubt that my preferred caliber would be his second choice.

    So I think the advice from both of us sums up to: small-frame .40 or .45. I’ll finish by adding two things:

    (1) Pay for quality, because it will save you money and grief in the long run. Go with Colt, Kimber, Para-Ordnance, Springfield Armory or some other solid, reputable manufacturer.

    (2) How well the stock fits your hand is really important. If you can’t hold it comfortably, your accuracy will be crap and you’ll fatigue so fast that you can’t train effectively.

  11. Thank you all for the advice.

    It’s nice to have some common ground, ESR. I normally come here for the weird, challenging perspective. Heinlein said, “I never learned from a man who agreed with me.” (To which somebody chimed in, “I never learned from a man who agreed with Robert Heinlein either.”)

    ;-)

  12. Bruce wrote: Drawing without an ACD? Simple … NEVER place your finger within the trigger guard when drawing

    Morgan Greywolf wrote: what’s an ACD …?

    “Accidental Discharge” (although I don’t recall ever seeing it abbreviated as ACD).

    It’s common to call them Negligent Discharges (ND) as they are usually not a true accident, but instead the result of improper gun handling.

    And Bruce is right: Reduce your odds of an ND by keeping your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot (which usually means that your sights are on the target).

  13. To David I’ll throw out my experience for what it’s worth:

    * If you are new to handguns generally, do NOT start with typical concealed carry (CCW) options. Find a mid-large frame gun in the same style you think you might carry eventually (pistol vs revolver) and learn that first. You have enough to learn when first starting, don’t handy cap yourself further with a tiny gun.

    * I like 9mm because it’s cheaper to shoot than the .4x calibers. Practice is the Achilles heal of shooters, very few of us practice as much as we should me included. Cost is a big factor and 9mm takes _some_ of that excuse away. Modern defensive loads in 9mm will get the job done IMO.

    * If you like pistols, go single stack. Width is harder to conceal than length.

    * In pistols, go polymer. Weight is the next killer for carrying everyday. The tactical tupperware also holds up better to sweat.

    * Good $DEITY yes, get a belt designed for carrying a gun. And pay the money for a good holster.

    After that, you’ll have to find your own way. We’re all different. And if you find you can’t find your way, well, maybe carrying a gun isn’t right for you just now.

    *shrug*

    Since we’re also probably gear heads, and hearing what others in the tribe are doing helps build familiarity, I’ll run down what I’ve found works for me. My training guns are Smith and Wesson’s M&P9 series. I pick up a comp-tac outside the waist (OWB) holster for each new full size gun I get with a double mag holder to match. They’re good gear. The OWB/mag-holder setup is a training requirement, and you might want to play IDPA (or whatever) as a way to practice.

    My daily carry is a Kahr PM9 (polymer, single stack 9mm). I’ve taken to inside the waistband at about 4:30 o’clock in a CrossBreed SuperTuck holster. Or I’ll carry it in my back pocket using a holster from PocketHolsters.com. I can run either of these setups with just a t-shirt to cover and I hardly notice the gun after a full day. I work in a startup-casual office; t-shirts with geeky sayings and jeans/carhartts are my typical. The pocket holster doesn’t work in dress pants or dockers for me.

    My secondary setup is a North American Arms G380 in a front pocket holster a friend made for me. It was actually my first CCW purchase. This gun is TOO HEAVY for this role, weight lesson learned. I’m in the market for a Keltec P3AT or Ruger LCP to replace the G380. A lot of people are finally admitting to this secondary carry setup for when they can’t carry their “real gun.” There are times you just can’t make you primary work. Options are nice.

    Good luck in finding the setup that works for you!

  14. Got a question about carrying. Don’t carry myself.

    What are some common places where you are not allowed to carry? Off the top of my head I can think of the courthouse, the airport. What do you do then just leave the thing in the car?

    And what about places like schools and post offices? I don’t think you can carry there.

  15. Darrencardinal asked: What are some common places where you are not allowed to carry?

    That’s a fun one: it varies radically by state.

    In what the news networks might call “red states” the trend is that one may not carry in government buildings (federal, state, local — any of them), schools, places that primarily serve alcohol for consumption on the premises (bars, typically not restaurants), crowded events like sports and sometimes concerts, or places of worship. Some state let private property owners override the law in either direction: a restaurant might be allowed to post a “no guns” sign and have it stick, or a church might be allowed to say “bring your gun; we don’t care” and have that be OK. Most basically gun-friendly states make exceptions for the transportation of a concealed gun through a restricted area: it’s usually illegal to have a gun within some distance of a school, but if you’re just driving past it that’s OK (walking past it is iffy).

    In the “blue states” it’s often difficult or impossible to get a permit, and then the places one may carry tend to be limited to one’s house and car.

    Typically, states that have some sort of permit law say that people who hold a permit from some other state may behave as if they had a permit from the state they’re visiting: I can carry in Texas according to the Texas rules based on my permit issued outside Texas.

    Since the demise of packing.org several websites have emerged to help demystify this sort of thing on a state-by-state basis. Google can find them: try “concealed carry laws by state”.

  16. That “Marine Corps Folk Wisdom” is nonsense. That shit came out of he firearms community when the “Wonder Nines” hit the market (in hardball only) in the late 70s and early 80s. Well before the introduction of the 10mm, which was later cut (and powered) down to a .40. I was in the Marine Corps in the mid 80s when the Beretta was being fielded, and no one bitched (any more than usual for a conservative organization undergoing change anyway).

    There is, in the real world, not a spits worth of difference between a 9mm, .40 S&W, 10MM and .45 in terms of terminal ballistics. THEY ALL SUCK OUT LOUD. Seriously. Given a choice between a .45 and a .30 caliber “M1 Carbine” (WWII vintage carbine) anyone in their right mind would take the carbine, unless they were operating in SEVERELY constrained areas, or needed to conceal it on their person.

    I’m no high-speed low drag operator with a dozen gun battles in a half dozen countries under my belt, but I’ve gone through my share of both military and civilian gun training. I’ve carried almost daily since Sept. 11th, including *daily* carry in a state that pretty near forbade it. I’ve shot (handgun) .380, 38 special, .357, 9mm, .357sig, .40, and .45.

    All handgun rounds do is poke holes. Some poke longer holes than others. Some shred more than others. The couple of ER docs I’ve spoken to, and the reports I’ve read from others indicate that even docs with a lot of gunshot experience can’t tell what caliber the bullet is unless they recover it from the body. Soft tissue (muscles, organs, etc.) is very elastic, and will expand as the bullet stretches it, then fairly rapidly fall back into place.

    There is almost no permanent secondary wound channel from a handgun round. To create a significant secondary wound channel the bullet needs to be traveling somewhere north of 2000 FPS (Rule of Thumb, YDMV)(600 meters per second. Again, roughly).

    Modern ammunition designed to kill people generally expands in a controlled fashion. .45 ammunition, because of the velocity, doesn’t (or didn’t the last time I checked) expand quite as much as 9mm.

    And yes, I know the “power” of a 1911 is about twice that of a 9mm. Convert those numbers to something you have experience and you’ll find that a 9mm is like a 10 pound weight falling from like 6 inches. And the 1911 is like a 10 pound weight falling from one whole foot. (I don’t recall the exact numbers).

    Here’s how you figure out what to buy:

    1) Threat model. Who are you going to shoot? Are you going to get in running gun battles with Spetznaz Assassins? Or are you worried about a lone mugger or rapist? Different threat models require different tools.

    2) Time to train. How often are you willing to go to the range and target shoot? How many Saturdays a year are you willing to give up to go run-and-gun with an IPSC, IDPA, or these guys http://www.scvrc.com/sat_night_action.htm (They come highly recommended from a FOAF)?. Are you willing to give up a vacation to attend classes at some place like Thunder Ranch, Gunsite, or Suarez International? How much are you willing to commit to this?

    3) Budget.

    If all you are worried about is the lone-rapist, and you don’t really have the time and money and interest to train regularly, get a reliable used revolver in .38. take it to the range once a week and shoot two boxes of ammunition until you can shoot a spread-hand sized group at 7 yards. Then shoot once a quarter or so until you can’t do that any more, then go back to once a week until the group closes in.

    If you’re worried about a Spetnatz Assassin you’re already fucked. But if that’s the threat model you want to train to, don’t take any advice from a bunch of computer dorks. Go to a range that rents guns. Don’t take their advice either, but they’ll have a basic marksmanship class. Take that. Then rent every gun they have in every caliber.

    Then go out and find a Springfield XD, any pistol by Sig Arms, Glock, and a CZ 75B, and shoot them (if your local range doesn’t have the taste to carry them).

    There’s nothing really wrong with a .45, except that it’s expensive. There’s nothing really better about 9mm, other than it’s cheaper, and there’s a wider variety of rounds. Cheaper means more trigger time. More trigger time means more accurate shots. More accurate shots mean you survive and the other guy doesn’t.

    If I was as rich as Bill Gates I’d shoot 10mm.

    Until then I shoot whatever is handy, but buy and carry 9mm.

    (Note, I’ve spent the last 4 days running around the High Desert with an AK learning how to use that platform. Thing is freaking SWEET. Cave man simple, stone-ax reliable, and sufficiently lethal.)

  17. >That “Marine Corps Folk Wisdom” is nonsense. That shit came out of he firearms community when the “Wonder Nines” hit the market (in hardball only) in the late 70s and early 80s.

    Eh? I have reports that this folklore is still live in the Marines today, which would be three decades too late for the Beretta changeover to explain it.

  18. Eric has practical experience with the Glock 27 of which he speaks so highly: it’s my carry weapon, too, and he’s shot it a number of times. (Most recently at the last Penguicon Geeks with Guns event.)

    My carry setup is the Glock in a Comp-Tac IWB holster, worn behind the hip bone on the right side (my strong side), on a nice heavy black leather belt I got at a Renaissance faire. It does a very good job of holding the pistol where I can get at it, NOW. If I feel the need to be extra-discreet, I replace the Glock with a Ruger LCP in its own Comp-Tac.

    I always say that there are two things you should never buy until you’ve fondled them: guns and cameras. Neither will work well for you if you can’t hold and use them comfortably.

  19. There is, in the real world, not a spits worth of difference between a 9mm, .40 S&W, 10MM and .45 in terms of terminal ballistics. THEY ALL SUCK OUT LOUD. Seriously. Given a choice between a .45 and a .30 caliber “M1 Carbine” (WWII vintage carbine) anyone in their right mind would take the carbine, unless they were operating in SEVERELY constrained areas, or needed to conceal it on their person.

    Say WHAT?!

    This is the first time I’ve heard anyone say anything the least bit positive about the .30 M1 Carbine round. It’s the wimpiest long arm round ever made; the only way to make it any wimpier would be to replace the smokeless powder with compressed air. It pushes a 110-grain bullet out of an 18-inch carbine barrel at a measly 1900 FPS, giving it an IPSC power factor of 209. By comparison, only 170 is required to meet the minimum qualifications of the IPSC major class. For a long arm to have this low a power is pitiful. It’s about as effective as .357 Magnum in the real world, and a hell of a lot less practical. If you shoot the round out of a handgun, you’ll get maybe 1500 FPS out of it. Whoopee.

    I want to get an M1 carbine (specifically, one of the IBM-made ones, so I can have a firearm with the IBM logo), but I have no intention of using it as a defensive weapon.

  20. >Eric has practical experience with the Glock 27 of which he speaks so highly: it’s my carry weapon, too,

    That’s not the only reason. My wife has a Glock 27, too, purchased on my recommendation.

  21. I don’t think so, Morgan. There’s a qualitative difference between the jobs 9mm and .40/.45 will do, while EMACS and vi will both serve the job of text editing quite well.

  22. >I don’t think so, Morgan. There’s a qualitative difference between the jobs 9mm and .40/.45 will do, while EMACS and vi will both serve the job of >text editing quite well.

    Assuming modern JHP ammo, all three will penetrate to about 14″ and expand to about .65″, in accordance to FBI penetration guidelines. And none of them are going to give the vaunted “one-shot stop” unless a CNS hit is made. A bigger hole in muscle tissue might cause the target to bleed out slightly faster (then again, it might not, this stuff is tricky), but it’s not going to keep them from shooting back.

  23. Well, I don’t know very much about guns, but it seems like both a 9mm and a .40/.45 would both be effective at killing people, but perhaps a .40/.45 might give you more range. Is that accurate, or am I missing something else?

  24. >Assuming modern JHP ammo, all three will penetrate to about 14″ and expand to about .65″, in accordance to FBI penetration guidelines.

    There are at least three different theological schools about what qualities of a bullet and charge maximize killing power. This is language associated with one of them which ignores claims made by the other two schools – notably, that overpenetration and cross-section actually matter.

    I am not myself attached to any of the three schools. I prefer instead to listen to people with decades of practical pistol-combat experience, and to emulate them in my choices of equipment and training. Part of what I hear in those narratives is that .45ACP outperforms the expectations not just of fast-small-bullet enthusiasts, but even of big-slow-bullet theory (which is what .45ACP fans often cite in support of their favored caliber). There is something John Moses Browning got right in 1911, possibly quite by accident, that nobody else has ever quite duplicated or even understood and which theoretical ballistic analysis fails to capture. But it keeps being rediscovered, over and over again, by the people at the sharp end.

    That perpetual rediscovery is why, though I like .40s and will cheerfully shoot a 9mm, I judge the 1911-pattern .45ACP to be the finest combat pistol ever made and (seriously) one of the pinnacle achievements of engineering any time, anywhere. Anyone to whom this seems doubtful should ask how many century-old weapon designs are not only still in use but the preferred choices of elite troops such as U.S. Special Operations Command and Marine Force Recon.

  25. I have no religious attachment to particular models or calibers. I long ago took my male ego out of that equation.

    First and foremost in my mind is “can I wield it?” – I want a gun I can pick up and manipulate confidently. However, there’s another valid consideration – you should have sufficient fundamental skills to pick up any gun you find and use it effectively. I strive for this level of skill, yet the former consideration is foremost when choosing my personal arms…of any type.

    I also do a bit of outdoors stress traniing, where you don’t have eye or ear protection, and you run hard to get your heart pounding. Flashes and bangs and tremors need to be something you condition yourself to deal with. Start by using an airsoft-type gun, preferably a replica of your real gun, to safely acclimatize yourself and build confidence.

    I do tend to consider the whole “stopping power” debate to be largely full of hooey. Guys have an aptitude for such guff, it seems….I’m no different ;) I look at it two ways – the dead pig test, and the combat test.

    Dead pig – analyse the kinds of damage various rounds do to a carcass (or gel equivalent) under perfect range conditions. Apply layers of clothing. Introduce barriers like wood, metal and glass. See how each round performs.

    Combat test – when it comes down to it, and you’re sending lead downrange, how does the whole shooting platform (gun & ammo) handle as you fire? Can you stay on target and deliver consistent shots where they count? Heck, a .50AE Desert Eagle will fuck a target up severely in short measure, but I can’t combat
    -shoot it for shit…hands are too small…but if I go hunting with it, under those marksman conditions I’m lethal with it. That said, if I had to pick it up and fight with it, I know what I have to do to wrestle it under control.

    With that calculus in mind, when choosing between .40 or .45 (both of which I shoot well), I decided on the .40 Sig. The weapon fits my hand better than the 1911 platform, and the extra capacity is good too. Both rounds deliver rapid non-survivable wounds, especially when firing premium rounds (I like 165gr brass jacket Golden Saber), and the slightly milder recoil of the .40 lets me drive tacks in quick succession.

  26. Anyone to whom this seems doubtful should ask how many century-old weapon designs are not only still in use but the preferred choices of elite troops such as U.S. Special Operations Command and Marine Force Recon.

    Well, all soldiers, even SOCOM troops, must train on the M9 9mm and the M4 or the M16A2; if a particular unit can arrange for it, a soldier can qualify on other weapons, including the H&K .45ACP. (Special Forces troops generally don’t have a problem, though.) That being said, many do prefer the H&K.

    (Full disclosure: I live and work somewhat close to SOCOM HQ (MacDill AFB is in Tampa) and know people who have served our country as SOCOM

  27. Note that I am NOT defending the 9mm (or any other caliber). I am simply pushing the position that, in terms of *terminal effectiveness* there isn’t enough difference between the major players to matter.

    There are significant differences in cost, in recoil, in size and weight and such.

    What I am saying is that DO NOT make your weapons choice based on the supposed terminal ballistics of the round. Make it on characteristics that matter: fit to hand, threat model, willingness to train etc.

    Crap, if you have some reason that you can only get/shoot .22s THAT WILL WORK, just train yourself to the point where you can hit a ping pong ball on a string 8 out of 10 times at 7 yards rapid fire.

    ESR:
    “Eh? I have reports that this folklore is still live in the Marines today, which would be three decades too late for the Beretta changeover to explain it.”

    Marines may be saying it now, but what I’m telling you is that it didn’t originate there, is not limited to there, is suspiciously similar to the “do not carry a fighting rifle in a caliber that doesn’t start with 3″, and is wrong.

    Jay Maynard:
    “This is the first time I’ve heard anyone say anything the least bit positive about the .30 M1 Carbine round. It’s the wimpiest long arm round ever made;”

    John Farnam, who has both a bit of experience himself, and who trains others who have “real” experience (http://www.defense-training.com) has often said nice things about the M1 platform. It’s light, it’s quick handling, it doesn’t (in the normal configuration) look like a scary black rifle. Now, in the interests of full disclosure he DOES prefer it with the DPX round, not just military FMJ, but we must compare like to like.

    However that isn’t the point, you’re right that the M1 carbine is a pretty light rifle round. The point is that it’s still a RIFLE ROUND, and unless you’re going to stick a .44 magnum loaded to the high end of the spec in a carbine (which is a good idea, and has been done) or maybe a .45 Long Colt, you aren’t to get better terminal ballistics. IPSC is a sport. It is (for the fast twitch crowd) a fun sport. Don’t confuse that with the real world.

    Bullets cause damage by two mechanisms:

    * Crushing, tearing and rending of flesh and bone by direct mechanical action. This is your primary wound channel.

    * Bruising and tissue disruption caused by pressure waves from the bullet passing through a mostly liquid environment. This is called “hydrostatic shock”, and causes a greater or smaller secondary wound channel based on the speed and shape of the bullet. This is why a M16 round (55-75 grain .223 caliber bullet leaving the barrel at over 3000 FPS) is more deadly than than a 1911 round (usually .45 caliber 200-230 grain bullet @800 FPS). This secondary wound channel (as I indicated in my original response) seems to start becoming useful at about 2000 fps.

    All pistol rounds do–or rather all rounds out of a pistol (modulo weird shit like the Thompson Contender stuff)–is cause a primary wound channel. There is SOME secondary, but it’s generally temporary, and doesn’t cause enough bleeding or tissue disruption to matter.

    Morgan Greywolf:
    “Hmmmm… 9 mm vs .40/.45 seems a bit like an Emacs vs. Vi argument to me. ;)”

    If one restricts one’s discussion to text editing, you’d be about right.

    What you NEED to discuss are (to carry the analogy further) the operating systems and the hardware you run them on.

    One can run vi or emacs on Unix, Windows, or several other OSes. Which one serves YOUR needs.

  28. There are significant differences in cost, in recoil, in size and weight and such.

    In my limited understanding of firearms, recoil is simply a result of the Newtonian laws of the conservation of energy and momentum: the amount of force in the recoil == the amount of force to propel the bullet forward. IOW, with two guns of similar power and ammunition caliber, there will be no difference, at least not in terms of physics. The shooter may perceive a difference in recoil, based on how that momentum is transferred, however. A heavier gun body, for instance, will absorb more of the energy than than a lighter gun. (Yes, I probably watch wayyy too much Mythbusters)

    So based on that, I would have to presume that, in general, a 9 mm is going to have less recoil than .45, but that some .45s may have less of a perceived recoil than a 9mm.

    Does that sound about right?

  29. >So based on that, I would have to presume that, in general, a 9 mm is going to have less recoil than .45, but that some .45s may have less of a perceived recoil than a 9mm.

    That’s correct.

    The action’s cycle time also matters. Perceived recoil seems to be partly a function of recoil energy per unit time (you’ll feel it more if it hits you all at once) so a slow-cycling action like a .45 will feel as though it’s delivering less recoil than a fast-cycling action like the gas-blowback action on a modern 9mm, even supposing the two are reacting with equivalent foot-poundage.

  30. There’s also going to be some difference in how much of the recoil energy is used by the action to get the next round ready to fire. As a spring absorbs more energy, less of it will be transmitted to the shooter. I would assume that it also takes some more energy to strip a .45 ACP cartridge from the magazine and shove it up the feed ramp and forward into the firing chamber than it would a 9mm Parabellum cartridge. I don’t think it makes all that much difference, but it could serve to slow the action down a bit and thus reduce felt recoil.

    There’s also a bit of a jet effect from the expanding propellant as the bullet exits the muzzle. This has to be fairly significant, or else a compensator wouldn’t work. That’s going to come along at just about the wrong moment, unless you happen to get lucky.

  31. William O. B’Livion: I’ve carried almost daily since Sept. 11th, including *daily* carry in a state that pretty near forbade it.

    If I may ask, what changed after September 11 to make you carry a firearm, even considering the risk of sanctions from the authorities if noticed? Could you share your threat model? Was there a credible chance of running into Al Qaeda at the Piggly Wiggly?

  32. After trying nearly every common handgun round, I have settled on an 8-shot .357Magnum revolver for EDC (The S&W R8). I find reassuring the extra power over .45, and the recoil with the R8′s excellent grips is quite manageable. Slightly worse than my Glock 21. It’s a little large — for those times when something smaller is in order I fall back to the 386NG with 7-round capacity. I appreciate the ability to swap out to .38 special for plinking or if my wife will be shooting the gun.

    Some shooting acquaintances have commented on the low capacity relative to the G21 or a 1911 double-stack. I can’t argue with their position, except to point out that if 7 or 8 shots is insufficient to stop a threat, I’m in over my head anyway. I do have moonclips for the R8, which I leave in my car.

    In the revolver’s favor is reliability. Yes, there are plenty of extremely reliable semi-autos. But every semi-auto I’ve owned has misfired at least once (most interesting was my Desert Eagle .50, which double-fired on me. Not a pleasant experience if you’re not expecting it). Either due to poor maintenance, bad ammo, limp-wristing, bad mag spring, or whatever, doesn’t matter. I have several revolvers none of which has ever misfired.

  33. @grendelkhan

    After 9-11 a lot of Americans (and particularly after the flight that was able to prevent the AQ from using its plane as a weapon) realized that the onus of defending their neighbors/countrymen/family/etc really fell to them. It wasn’t really about AQ, but about general collective defense in depth.

  34. Grendelkhan:
    “If I may ask, what changed after September 11 to make you carry a firearm, even considering the risk of sanctions from the authorities if noticed? Could you share your threat model? Was there a credible chance of running into Al Qaeda at the Piggly Wiggly?”

    I lived in an area that imported a LOT of muslim labor (hi-tech), and given the makeup of the 9-11 hijackers, a degree from a prestigious univiersity does not preclude one from being a TNJ.

  35. Apologies for my two cents worth and perhaps a little off topic but…

    I learned very early on in my own pursuit of a CCW permit that it turns out that people carry just about every type of pistol or revolver that was ever made! I also learned that people become very focused on the weapon and ammunition even when a newbie asks them questions more about the psychological aspects of confronting a threat while I am an armed citizen (which is similar to a skydiving instructor talking about different parachutes and containers instead of what it actually feels like to jump out of a perfectly good airplane – and how one goes about mentally preparing for it).

    So I spent a good deal of time reading, learning and researching “the force continuum”. Starting here: http://www.kc3.com/self_defense/continuum.htm

    Once I began to understand the holistic picture of self defense, then the choice of weapon becomes easier because it actually loses some of its importance. I also find that the amount of time that training programs spend on “encountering a threat” is woefully inadequate for concealed carry preparation. You cannot just start firing if you encounter someone on the street with a gun. So, the initial assessment of a situation is critical to saving lives while also avoiding a lengthy prison term! Yet, even the NRA CCW training program essentially sidesteps any discussion of the mental fitness, self control and self discipline that is required to be applied in any civilian threat situation. This is also one of the reasons why I took about a year of regular practice and training at the gun range before I carried at all (even though I had already gained the permit many months beforehand).

    It seems that most successful citizen defense situations (bad guy loses, good guy wins) occur in a persons residence where they have various tactical advantages such as knowledge of the terrain (it’s my house/territory you invaded). This doesn’t just give a intel’ advantage, but also gives the armed owner/occupier a psychological advantage (I *know* that the invader either doesn’t know this house at all or, at the very least, doesn’t know it nearly as well as I do). The armed owner is also given the advantage of a much more clear cut legal position. Castle doctrine laws exist within many states and this provides the owner with yet another psychological advantage that benefits the mental situation while under the duress of a high stress home invasion.

    Whereas, opportunities for conceal carry permit holders to interrupt criminal activity that is underway in the world at large is a far more demanding and stressful situation due to the far less controlled circumstances and therefore far less tactically advantageous situation. The concealed carry permit holder must assess the circumstances of the “threat” whether it be against the permit holder themselves or someone else. They must ensure that they are not intervening against a fellow CCW holder, undercover law enforcement or agency, security guards who are themselves intervening against a perpetrator. Then, they also must assess the legal situation to determine if the use of deadly force is warranted. I believe that discussion of these aspects of concealed carry are very much overtaken by discussions about weapons, caliber, type and stopping power. At the point at which deadly force is used, a concealed carry permit holder has past through an incredibly important and complex decision making process that far surpasses the importance of the choice of weapon.

    Why do so many gun owners fall back to discussions of caliber and pistol choice? When the more important question is how to prepare and remain prepared for a situation that most likely each permit holder will never have to face but a situation that, if they do encounter it, they must handle it perfectly in order to avoid tragedy or prison time?

  36. WRT to “hydrostatic shock” and the M16, Martin Fackler has demonstrated it’s not a significant factor in stopping power. There are two tissue damage types here that are relevant, permanent crush cavity and a temporary effect where the tissues are pushed away but snap back without a lot of gross damage.

    He discovered that the M16 55gr round (US M193 Ball) major wounding ability depended on the velocity (energy) at which it struck. The higher the velocity, the more likely it will break at the cannelure into two pieces and that the bottom piece will fragment. Velocity per se adds nothing significant to the wounding. The current SS109 long range machine gun derived round that’s become 5.56 NATO (US green tip M855) has the same mechanism, but there are anecdotal reports that the manufacturing variations in this bullet are quite a bit greater than for the simple 55 gr FMJ that doesn’t have add the complexity of a forward bit of steel, and therefore the stopping power of M855 is a lot more variable. Combine this with the 14.5 inch barreled M4 carbines that are now all the rage and you have a problem for any sort of medium to long range fighting.

    As for lower velocity self-defense pistol loads, it appears that stopping power scales with bullet diameter. All things being equal, a JHP .45 will expand more than a JHP 9mm and will produce a greater permanent crush cavity. This is important since unless you achieve a CNS hit or simply discourage the target, you’re going to have to depend on the target bleeding out enough so that he can no longer fight.

    Google Martin Fackler for lots more details.

  37. Mike H:
    ;
    ;Why do so many gun owners fall back to discussions of caliber and pistol choice?
    ;When the more important question is how to prepare and remain prepared for a
    ;situation that most likely each permit holder will never have to face but a situation
    ;that, if they do encounter it, they must handle it perfectly in order to avoid tragedy
    ;or prison time?
    ;

    You see that other discussion on Genetics and IQ?

    The IQ distribution of Gun Owners, Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives and Progressives is the same. Which is to say that most people aren’t very smart, don’t reason very well and mostly just want their previous choices or positions validated.

    Also these are (mostly) men you’re talking about. Men like tools. They like to talk about tools. They like to compare tools (get your mind out of the gutter). This isn’t just guns. Give a three guys a brand new device, and they’ll find a way to make a competition out of it in about 3 minutes.

    Arguing things like caliber, power factor, energy v.s. momentum etc. lets most people feel good about their choices, beat their chest for their favorite position and generally act like males looking for a mate.

    Discussing tactical situations is more difficult. Often times there is no clear answer. Other times the answer is VERY uncomfortable to the male ego (e.g. “You’re going to die”). Also you have to be honest about some things that most of the Gun Gurus don’t really want to admit or deal with. Not everybody is willing to accept this.

    There are people who train for scenarios with both live fire, and using things like Airsoft for drills and training situations. They’re a little harder to find than IDPA/IPSC, but if you can, it’s worthwhile.

    There are a few websites that go deeper than you’ll find on ar15.com/GlockTalk etc. but you have to dig for them.

    Lina Inverse Says:

    ;
    ;WRT to “hydrostatic shock” and the M16, Martin Fackler has demonstrated it’s not a
    ;significant factor in stopping power. There are two tissue damage types here that are
    ;relevant, permanent crush cavity and a temporary effect where the tissues are
    ;pushed away but snap back without a lot of gross damage.
    ;

    http://rkba.org/research/fackler/wrong.html

    It’s clear the man knows a metric crapload about wound ballistics, and certainly FAR FAR more about the actual effects of a bullet in flesh than I do, but why then is a shot from a .308 (7.62×51, usually 150-180 grain, M14, M60 machine Gun, etc.) so much worse than one from something like an .308 (7.62×39, usually 122-150 Grain. AK47, SKS and similar).?

    Why do rifle rounds consistently outperform similar sized pistol rounds? In the military context (aside from the behavior of the 5.56, which is questionable under certain laws of land warfware) all rounds are supposed to be non-fragmenting and non-expanding. So why–at similar ranges–do rifle rounds produce more casualties (aside from we use them more).

    In both military and defensive environments (and probably to a lesser degree hunting) to stop someone/something you either need to completely sever the thinking bits from the acting bits or drain enough blood out of the brain that it shuts down (note that then the person falls down, and sometimes this allows a sufficient amount of oxygen rich blood to get there. If you need to put someone down and keep them there, shoot them again). Your interest isn’t in the total tissue damage that is apparent when they get to the operating room table, your interest is in disrupting them enough that they fall down and stay down.

    I’m on IM right now with a guy who was both a Personal Security Team leader AND a Army trained 91Whiskey medic in Iraq in 2004/2005. He says:

    The ground level fact is that given a piece of meat large enough for the effect to occur (I have seen clean through holes in limbs for example) and the presence of bony structures and less elastic solid organs, the effects are very easily seen and ID’d between handgun and rifle wounds.Bone frags are important, and add to the effect I’m sure, and livers act differently than muscle as do major blood vessels.

    Note that he’s both shot more people AND treated more people than either you or I have.

    I’m not going to say Fackler was wrong. The guy did his research, and I don’t see that he had any particular axe to grind, but I think the story he’s telling is incomplete.

    As for lower velocity self-defense pistol loads, it appears that stopping power scales with bullet diameter. All things being equal, a JHP .45 will expand more than a JHP 9mm and will produce a greater permanent crush cavity. This is important since unless you achieve a CNS hit or simply discourage the target, you’re going to have to depend on the target bleeding out enough so that he can no longer fight.

    Except all things AREN’T equal. 9mm is usually driven a LOT faster, and has a greater expansion ratio (usually). Most of the attention to JHP/expanding bullets was in the 9mm and .40 caliber realm, and it *still* expands further and more reliably. .45 has caught up to it, but 1911 style pistols have had a reputation for being finicky about feeding hollow points (this doesn’t apply to other platforms, and I’m sure most modern combat 1911s have fixed this).

    And ultimately my whole argument has been that outside of the internet keyboard brigades, out “in the real world” the edge that the .45 has is NOT A SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE. The difference between a 230 grain bullet expanded to .73 inch diameter is NOT going to have a significant edge on a 147 grain bullet that has expanded to .58 or .62 inches.

  38. @Thor
    My experience is that “blue” states are actually less restrictive on where you can carry than “red” states.

    In the northeast, for example, the only real restrictions are federal buildings and schools. Private property owners can put up restrictive signage, but in practice, none of them do so.

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