A Continuing Saga For a CCW Handgun
I wrote most of the following several years ago for another board. I love 1911s but carrying one all day takes effort on your part and there are easier handguns to tote that work as well.
"My search or a concealed carry weapon (CCW) weapon that works for me has been going on for at least one year prior to my obtaining a CCW permit. Michigan, at that time, was headed toward a shall issue status with many carry restrictions placed on the person with a CCW. I knew from the onset that whatever combination of handgun and carry device I chose had to be innocuous when viewed by the public. I received my CCW permit in January of 2002.
I had seen a lot of statements by Clint Smith and I believed what he said. Mr. Smith said something like "A carry weapon doesn't have to be comfortable, it has to be comforting. I took this statement to heart.
My CCW weapon was going to be one of my two favorite pistols. I knew I was going to carry a full-sized 1911 or a Browning High-Power (BHP). I am set to look for the proper way to carry these two weapons. Michigan's CCW is a very restrictive law. There are many places you just plain can't carry. Therefore you need a holster that is easy to remove or that doesn't look like a holster. My first choice was a FIST Driving Holster that I would use with my Colt Officer Model. I also ordered one for my Khar K40, which was to be an alternative carry to the 1911s, and BHPs.
This driving holster was the first of many things that didn't work for me. It wasn't easy for me to use while driving and it didn't satisfy me as a carry holster. I sought advice and Rosco Benson, whom I have a great deal of respect for, recommended a Milt Sparks Mirage. The Mirage is a well-designed belt slide and I intended to use it with my full-sized 1911s and BHPs. It didn't take long for me to realize the barrels of these pistols were exposed below my polo shirts and short jackets.
At this point I became enamored with my Smith and Wesson Model 37 and looked for the perfect pocket holster. I bough a Mitch Rosen pocket holster and gave it a test drive. I wasn't a happy camper and asked for help from various boards on the Internet. I was told to try an Uncle Mike's Pocket Holster and guess what? This holster cost a fraction of name brand pocket holsters and it worked for me until I became dissatisfied with the five shots of a Model 37.
I bought a like new Rosen Workman Holster off the Internet. This led to a long battle to get the holster to fit the pistol. I took the holster to a distributor who convinced Mitch Rosen to refit the holster. At that time I bought a Workman Express as an interim solution and used this holster for a while but it just wasn't me. The two Workman are now part of a growing collection of holsters.
I still needed a holster that I could use daily without screaming GUN! I asked advice on the Internet was advised to try a Milt Sparks Summer Special (MSSS). I tried this holster with my 1911s and BHPs but it wasn't comfortable to wear while driving but I soon found that the (MSSS) is a very comfortable driving holster in the strong side position. I am not allowed to carry at work and if my shirt came up the empty holster would be visible.
I then discovered that my Milt Sparks Mirage worked perfectly with my Colt Officer, Kimber Custom Compact, and Para-Ordnance P12 LDA. These worked for a while but I decided I liked my Colt Officer and Kimber Custom Compact too much to use for car guns. The Para-Ordnance P12 LDA's weight led me to part company with Mr. Clint Smith's philosophy of comfort/comforting. The P12 with 13 rounds weighed too much for me.
I used to tease my friend, Stephen A. Camp, about his Kahr K9. I had done testing and evaluation for a friend's E9 and I was less than impressed. Every magazine produced a jam and the little pistol felt heavy to me. The E-9's owner wanted to dispose of it and offered it to me at a price I couldn't refuse. I kept shooting the E-9 and the jams went away just like the manual said. I liked this little gun for warm weather carry but what would I carry it in? I had my Kahr E9 worked on by Marianne Carniak of the Accurizer Gunshop in Troy, Mi, she created a work of art. My Kahr E9 was too pretty for the abuse a car/truck/carry gun absorbs. I soon moved on.
All this time I kept thinking I needed one handgun to carry all year long. I like Kahr pistols and I had a K40 that might work. I tried this pistol and believe it is a very good carry weapon when teamed up with an equally good carry rig. I had the Accurizer Gun shop of Troy, Michigan owned by Marianne Carniak do some alterations. A hard chromed and night sighted jewel sans sharp edges has replaced the blue pistol with a worn finish. The K40 also has 30 lpi checkering on the front of the grip and Hogue grips. It is now candy for the eyes.
I happened upon a group of K40 holsters for sale on Ebay. I won four, like new, items. My bid was $91.00 I received an Alessi CCQ and magazine carrier, Milt Sparks Heritage, and a Milt Sparks Summer Special. I figure the value of these items is close to $300.00. After trying these items with my K40 I am sure I have a great carry package. I have settled on the Milt Sparks Mirage and Summer Special for everyday use."
I also found that my Milt Sparks Mirage worked well with my Kahr E-9. The E-9 became my carry gun used with the Mirage until cold weather was in the offing. What to do the seven months of winter in Michigan? My eyes fell on my Smith and Wesson Model 457. Here was a 45acp pistol that I didn't have much money in, was reliable, accurate, and compact. I opted for another Milt Sparks Mirage.
My next handgun that was going to be the perfect car/truck/carry gun was the S&W M457. It was in a caliber I like as well as any pistol caliber. I used the M457 for a long time until it had a lot of exterior wear. I then went down the same path as I took with my Kahr; yes, it went to see Marianne Carniak and received the same beautification. In the end it "was too pretty for the abuse a car/truck/carry gun absorbs."
I later moved on to my inexpensive Bersa Thunder 45 for car/truck/ carry. Why the Bersa Thunder 45? Low cost, reliable, accurate, compact, and lightweight. I own more expensive handguns but the Bersa works for me. Why the 45acp? I shoot 45s well, recoil isn't sharp, and I am confident that I can hit what I aim at.
Bersa Thunder 45:
I think WHAT weapon you carry is very much subject to the person, The 1911 platform IS fairly heavy but it is thin for a 45 so its fairly easily concealed and accurate well beyond defensive ranges. I have carried one for a LONG time(1st a colt commander then a kimber eclipse ultra SS) and have no problems with them. Some people are more sensitive to the weight so I understand they go for lighter pistols.........IE subjective.
For me personally, w/o winter clothes, I can only manage to conceal guns that are Glock 26 size or smaller (like my P99c)
I can relate
Richard I had to laugh seeing your progress as it is very similar to my own experience and likely many others. Strangely enough I have gravitated the other direction back towards full size for ccw particularily the 1911 although other brands such as Sig's 220 would work. Slide width is the critical dimension for me regarding comfort IWB along with slide length. I use a belly band with the top edge even with the top of the pants waist band seam and position it so that the 1911 rides at about 7:30 (I'm a lefty). The shorter slides with either conventional IWB holsters or the belly band tend to dig at me. The 5" 1911 just sits better on my hip and offers me untucked or tucked shirt flexibility, good retention because of the pants waist band and regular belt holding everthing in tight and fast access with the BB. I'm almost embarassed at how many guns and holsters I've gone through in search of that perfect combination but I think I have finally found the one for me. Right now I'm carrying a full size steel 1911 and honestly do not notice the weight. If weight was an issue then an alloy frame full size or possibly a sig would do. My point I guess is that if you love the 1911 design and havn't tried a belly band then it might be $35 bucks or so well spent. Key is to get it positioned right so that it is comfortable. I tired it with my G19 and S.A. Champion and they were too short for my comfort.
and excellant photos also.
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