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Why You Should Carry a Big Gun as Your EDC

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This article originally appeared in CONCEALMENT Issue 6

Don’t Skimp On the Size of Your EDC Gun

If you carry a gun, you’ve certainly asked yourself, “Why? Maybe it was in the changing room of the department store where you had to go up a pant size to accommodate your EDC pistol.

Perhaps it was in the third hour of your road trip with your gun digging into your hip. If you see yourself as the next YouTube/Instagram/Snapchat star or a card-carrying badass because of the gun on your hip, this article’s not for you. Feel free to stop reading and go work on your sub-second draw.

If you’re a law-abiding, Second Amendment-supporting gun toter, then this may be for you. What gun do you consistently carry? For years, I felt that any gun was better than no gun. That’s bullshit.

A five-shot J-frame with a few rounds in the tube and a speed strip in your pocket probably won’t sustain the gunfight you’re more likely to encounter in today’s world. Is it better than nothing? Sure. But you can do better.

Read the Stats
The FBI defines an “active shooter incident” as one that results in four or more fatalities. According to those same FBI statistics, mass shootings are on the rise. In the time period from January 2000 to December 2001, there were four active shooter incidents.

Fast-forward to the January 2014 to December 2015 timeframe and that number has risen to more than 40. FBI statistics also show that nearly 40 percent of the shootings from January 2000 to December 2015 were stopped by someone other than law enforcement. Given that the only addresses attacks that take four lives or more, these numbers don’t account for smaller, more concentrated (and random) attacks with lower death tolls.

Given the media’s myopic focus on horrific mass murders, glory-hungry killers are emboldened to one-up previous terror events by pushing for higher and higher body counts.

glock g19 kydex

Whether in your pocket or incorporated into your holster, make sure to pack an extra mag or 10.

As a police officer, I’ve always carried a gun off duty to protect my family and myself against criminals. I’ve helped apprehend suspects and intervene on crimes in progress like an armed robbery at the local Dunkin’ Donuts — sacred ground, how dare someone rob a Dunkin’ Donuts.

Since the statistics show that mass shootings are on the rise, the likelihood of actually encountering a threat while out and about is higher than ever. Walking out of the house with the aforementioned five-shot wheel gun and a few rounds bouncing around in your front pocket is half-assed, cop or not.

Ask yourself if the gun you carry every day when you roll out of the house will actually help you should you need to defend yourself during a sustained incident. Once you come to a conclusion of “yes” or “no,” you owe it to yourself to ponder the following questions:
> How many rounds do you carry on you? How will you gain access to spare magazines?
> Is your blaster ready to do work, or have you neglected to maintain your equipment?
> Are your bullets designed to be effective against humans or did you cheap out on ammo?
> Are your sights zeroed? If you carry a Glock, have you upgraded your sights for something that’s better than the factory option?
> Do you have a light on your gun? No? How about in your pocket?

Please tell me you have a light in your pocket. According to the statistics at just my agency, nearly 70 percent of deadly force encounters happen in diminished lighting conditions.

If you can’t see it, you can’t see if it’s a threat. And if it is, you need to be able to see it to put rounds on target to stop the threat. Have a light for crying out loud, even if it’s not on your gun.

The Right Tools for the Job

As responsible gun owners, it’s our duty to pack the appropriate amount of firepower to meet the mission, and every time you leave the house your mission is unknown. You could encounter a dirtbag holding up your favorite Jesus Chicken restaurant. One round to the grape may take care of that situation.

Less likely, but still firmly within the realm of possibility, you may also encounter a planned and coordinated attack such as a mass killing at a large shopping mall. Now you have to deal with multiple threats that are on the move and at more than an arm’s length distance from you. Can you make solid hits at 25 yards with pappy’s snub nose wheel gun? In an ideal situation, sure, but most of us are a hell of a lot more confident with a full(er) size pistol with lots of bullets.

A full(er) size gun helps manage recoil and makes putting accurate fire on target a little easier.
Guns that come with basic plastic sights do you no favors. Upgrading your sights should be one of your first considerations.

In a high-stress situation with the potential for dudes shooting back at you, you have to make your hits count. You’re ultimately accountable for every round that you squeeze out.

This isn’t spray and pray, this is real life.

If you torch off a few wild rounds like you’re playing a video game, it’ll be just your f*cking luck that an innocent bystander will be the one to suck that up instead of the bad guy. Remember that every bullet that leaves your gun has a lawyer attached.

So what does this mean? Carry a big gun. Barring that, carry as big of a gun as you can shoot well. Bigger guns hold more rounds. More rounds mean that you can increase your odds of hitting the threat and surviving a deadly encounter. More rounds also gives you the option to port a hole through a windshield or car door, should you find yourself in a deadly encounter in or around a car. Does your EDC pistol have enough ammo to get that done?

That bigger gun gives you more control to manage recoil. It also has a longer barrel, which gives you a longer sight radius. Having more rounds on hand is great, but being able to accurately put rounds on target is what counts the most.

If the perpetrator is wearing body armor like in the infamous Hollywood shootout, you’ll be forced to find a rifle or go for a headshot. You need to ask yourself if you’re confident enough to make a head shot at 10 or 15 yards.

Personally speaking, I endeavor to carry a Glock 19, a spare G17 magazine, and a SureFire E2B on me at all times. That’s 33 rounds of freedom for you counting along at home. But Richard, you just wrote a few hundred words on why I should carry a full-size pistol! Why the Glock 19, you might ask?

Here’s why: Over the past 13 years on the job, I’ve predominantly carried a Glock 17 with some type of light on it. I know that weapon system inside and out. In a perfect world, I’d just carry that same gun whether at work or out on the town. Unfortunately, I can’t comfortably conceal that combo with my standard off-duty hobo-attire. That’s where the Glock 19 comes in. It has just two fewer rounds in the magazine versus its larger brother, and in my hands it’s just as accurate. Same sights, same trigger pull, same grip angle, etc. There’s not much of a difference going from one gun to the other.

If you carry a gun, you should have a light to accompany it. Weapon mounted or pocketed, a solid white light like this Surefire E2B makes target identification easy.

If you carry a gun, you should have a light to accompany it. Weapon mounted or pocketed, a solid white light like this Surefire E2B makes target identification easy.

To maximize concealability, I don’t utilize a weapon light. Yes, it’s blasphemy. When the SureFire XC-1 hit the market, I fell in love, but over time I’ve become less than impressed with its performance, so it stays at home. The tried-and-true E2B fills the same role effortlessly, so that’s what I rock. Regardless, have a flashlight with you, because it’s going to happen in the dark. Your iPhone doesn’t count.

Before stepping off the soapbox, let me acknowledge that my words might have been a bit idealistic. It’s important to be pragmatic. I realize that sometimes carrying a big(ger) gun and a big mag just won’t work. Yoga pants and big Glocks don’t really go together. Or do they?

Clothing for the Job
Realizing that your wardrobe or situation sometimes dictates carrying a smaller firearm, maximizing your available firepower should be taken into consideration and considered paramount. The Glock 43 with a +2 magazine extension (or the S&W Shield elsewhere in Concealment) provides you with, you guessed it, two more extra rounds of ammo, bringing the total to 8+1. In addition, the longer magazine extension boasts more grip purchase for increased accuracy without adding too much length to ruin the deep concealment vibe. Squirrel another one of those magazines away in your pocket somewhere, and you’ll have 17 rounds on board. Much better than just a five-shot revolver with a speed strip wouldn’t you agree?

If you’re planning on carrying a big gun, a spare mag, and a flashlight, you’ll need to make some modifications to your wardrobe. Far too many people put too much emphasis on downsizing their gun rather than upsizing their clothing. Purchase clothing a size up so you can carry your full size gun inside the waistband. Make sure your pockets can accommodate magazines or flashlights without getting torn up after a few weeks of wear. Purchase a good belt that can support the weight of a full(er) size gun all day. Consider buying shirts that are a bit longer and a touch larger in the torso. If you’re really committed, find a good tailor and get your shirts modified to ensure maximum concealability. Make your wardrobe work for you, instead of against you.

Do Your Homework
Carrying a gun is a lot of work; no one doubts that. If you’re going through all the trouble to purchase a firearm, maintain it and your skills, obtain your license, find a holster, and read articles like this, you should constantly question if your gear and choices are setting you up for success.

Find the biggest gun you can conceal and shoot well; then train like your life depends on it.

Thankfully, the odds that you’ll be involved in a defensive gun use are very small. Unfortunately, should you be involved in one, the stakes are literally life and death. You should do everything in your power to increase your survivability across the variety of situations you might encounter in a given day.

So, find the biggest gun you can conceal and shoot well. Find a good instructor and spend as much time as practical at home or the range keeping your skills fresh. Find a good flashlight, either handheld or weapon mounted. As William Petty of Centrifuge Training likes to say, “A light is a replacement for the sun. Unless it’s brighter than the sun, it’s not bright enough.”

Once you’ve found your big gun, your bright light, and a competent instructor, spend some time tailoring your wardrobe to conceal your duty-sized gear. Then train as if your life depends on it, because someday it might.

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1 Comment

  • paul fisher says:

    which brings us to the point of bigger caliber / less rounds / more mass hitting the target.
    or more little projectiles needing to go down range.

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  • which brings us to the point of bigger caliber / less rounds / more mass hitting the target.
    or more little projectiles needing to go down range.

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