Summertime Carry – What?!!

I am honestly bewildered by the plethora of articles about concealed carry in the summertime and how you if you want to carry when the weather is hot you have to get one of those little mouse guns or pocket guns. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the first rule of a gunfight is to have a gun. Right. To me that sounds like the first rule of winning a boxing match is getting in the ring. But a 100 pound woman with no training getting into the ring with a heavyweight champion boxer is not going to win. Likewise, an untrained, civilian with a pocket .380 is not going to win in an altercation with a hardened criminal on drugs armed with a .45 caliber handgun.

Honestly, folks, it’s not hard to carry a decent size and caliber handgun, no matter the season. Wear shorts. Just wear shorts with belt loops. Wear a short-sleeve, lightweight shirt. But get shirts with a pattern to them, preferably in colors other than white. If you’ll do that and follow the suggestions I’ve made in earlier blogs and which I’ll repeat here, you can be well-armed regardless of the season. A gun at your belt does not care how long the pants legs are. A gun covered by a shirt tail does not care how long the sleeves are.

Yesterday I watched a family go into a restaurant. Dad, mom and boy of about 12. Dad was armed. How do I know? Well, I don’t know for sure, but he was wearing cargo shorts with a big bulge in one of his thigh pockets. “He’s got a gun in that pocket,” I thought when I watched them walk. He even looked like a gun guy. My next thought was, “where is he going to find a bad guy who will wait for him to unzip that pocket and pull his little gun out, orient it and get it pointed in the right direction?” My very next thought was that the clothing he was wearing would have been just as conducive to carrying a .45 Springfield Operator 1911 as the clothes I was wearing. His shirt was white, but it was a tactical-type shirt, with a long shirttail worn outside his pants. His shorts were khaki, 5.11-style shorts. Those shorts have belt loops. His combination of clothing would carry and conceal in the same way mine does.

IWB Holster

The image on the right is a cutaway showing where the gun is in the image to the left. Notice this is not a big guy.

THE SEASON DOES NOT MATTER WHEN IT COMES TO DEFENDING YOURSELF AND YOUR LOVED ONES. Once again, here’s how a guy can carry a big gun. A guy that weighs 130 pounds or a guy that weighs 300 pounds. This method works for both.

  1. Buy a good gun belt.  It can be a 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 inch wide, two layers thick, leather gun belt or a 5.11 Tactical Sierra Bravo Duty belt. It just needs to have enough thickness to support the clips from the holster and to support the weight of the firearm.
  2. Get a good IWB holster, custom made for your gun. I’ve used Crossbreed SuperTuck, WhiteHat Holsters, D.M. Bullard Leather, Alien Gear, Galco KingTuk, and MTR Custom Leather holsters. They all work well.
  3. Find the best position on your body for comfort and accessibility. Most of the holster manufacturers recommend the 4:00 position. For me 3:00 works best for semi-automatics and for some reason 11:00 in a cross draw position for revolvers. That’s commonly called appendix carry.
  4. Unload your gun and practice drawing until you can do it smoothly over and over. Don’t worry about speed, worry about smoothness. The speed will come with practice. Break  your practice down into steps:  a) uncover, b) grip, c) draw, d) rotate, e) join hands and extend.  Do this over and over until it becomes muscle memory.

Now, you may actually have a chance should you encounter an unpleasant situation where someone wants what you have and is willing to kill you for it, regardless of the season or length and weight of your cover clothing.

Ammo – Quick Pick Charts to Aid in Selection

In my previous post I wrote about effective ammo for self defense and gave my own personal reasons for picking both a caliber and an ammunition that would deliver at least 400 ft./lbs. of energy on target. I didn’t cover revolver calibers or some of the less popular semi-automatic calibers in that post. I’ve revisited the issue and in doing so presented some charts. If you seriously take in what’s in the charts you’ll understand why I believe the industry is doing a big disservice in selling the .380 ACP handguns as a serious self-defense caliber. Considering that the law enforcement industry all but abandoned the .38 Special back in the mid-1980s because they were getting outgunned by the bad guys so often and seeing in these charts that even the .38 Special has an advantage over .380 ACP, you’ll see what I mean. So here they are, showing the top 5 performers for each handgun caliber:







Revolver Calibers





Comparison Chart of the Best of All Calibers

The column on the left is ft./lbs. of Energy and the Red Line represents my target performance.

Defensive Ammo Comparison Chart

Ammo For Personal Defense – A Fresh Perspective

We don’t use Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) or “ball” ammo for defensive purposes, at least not in the civilian world. We use ammunition that is designed for personal defense, that is designed to expand to penetrate, but not over-penetrate. I think we can pretty much agree that modern defensive ammo, regardless of the manufacturer or the caliber, penetrates and expands like it’s supposed to. If you look at the data, as far as expansion and penetration go, there’s not a whole lot of difference between 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. For those of you who shoot .357 Sig or 10 mm, you’ve already got a winner, no matter what brand you use.

Hollow Point Cartridges
Hollow Point Cartridges

I’m interested in what would work best to stop a threat and I’ve seen plenty of evidence that just poking holes in somebody isn’t necessarily going to do it. When an aggressor is hopped up on drugs or adrenalin or just plain mean, poking holes in them may not stop them, at least not for a while. What will go a long way in stopping an aggressor is hitting them really, really hard. Think about a boxing match as an analogy. When boxers hit each other, there are jabs and punches. Jabs wear a person down over time, but a punch, a really powerful roundhouse punch, will quite often knock a guy down. I want my bullets to knock an aggressor down if I’m fighting for my life.

The way we measure the energy produced by a bullet when it hits a target is in foot/pounds (ft./lbs.) This measurement comes from a formula that measures the weight of the projectile or bullet and how fast it is traveling. The weight is measured in grams and the speed is measured in feet per second. You can look the formula up on the Internet if you’re interested in the math, but you can also look up the ft./lbs. of energy for most modern cartridges in the ballistics tables provided by the manufacturers. They typically give a value for at the muzzle, at 50 yards and 100 yards. Since most of the situations we as defensive shooters might encounter will be at 9-10 feet or less, it’s realistic to use the energy at the muzzle as a comparison.

I recently went through an exercise that would enable me to recommend some good ammo choices to the students in my Advanced Concealed Carry classes. Using the manufacturers’ data I ranked the top 5 ammo types I could find for .380, 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP calibers. The first thing I noticed in this comparison is that the best you can find in .380 ammo only produces around 200 ft./lbs. of energy.  You can get that with Hornady Critical Defense or Hornady American Gunner, Fiocchi Extrema, Federal Premium HST, Remington Ultra Defense or Winchester PDX-1. Speer Gold Dot comes close at 196 ft./lbs. News flash:  200 ft./lbs. of energy isn’t enough. My target is 400 ft./lbs. Is that arbitrary? To a degree maybe, but I’ve studied what happens to both man and animals when you don’t have enough knock-down power, even talking with a number of people who have actually been shot. I think that 400 ft./lbs. is a reasonable target. Would 380 ft./lbs. do the job?  I wouldn’t feel really under-armed with something in that range, but with only 200 ft./lbs. of energy to put on a mean/aggressive target, I’d really feel unprepared, especially if I only had 5 or 6 rounds.

Fiocchi Extrema
Fiocchi Extrema

Okay, so if you’ve got a 9mm handgun, and you want 400 ft./lbs. of energy to put on target, what would do the job?  Fiocchi Extrema 115 grain will do it at 400 ft./lbs. and Speer Gold Dot 124 grain +P will do it at 410 ft./lbs. Winchester PD-X1 124 grain +P and Winchester Silvertip 115 grain come in just under  400 ft./lbs. My old favorite Hornady Critical Defense doesn’t do the job at only 332 ft./lbs. but their new American Gunner ammo comes in at 396 ft./lbs. but again you have to shoot 124 grain +P to get that kind of energy. Most of the other 9mm rounds come in around 330-350 ft./lbs. I’m a little disappointed that it seems you have to shoot +P ammo in several brands to get the needed stopping power.

Remington Golden Saber
Remington Golden Saber

Looking at .40 S&W, you’ve got more choices:  Remington High Terminal Performance 155 grain is way up there at 499 ft./lbs. followed closely by four other cartridges all in the 480-485 range. They are:  Fiocchi Extrema 155 grain, Remington Ultimate Defense 180 grain, Remington Golden Saber 165 grain and Speer Gold Dot 165 grain.

The best performing .45 ACP cartridge I found among the standard brands was Remington Golden Saber 185 grain +P at 534 ft./lbs.  Speer Gold Dot 200+P follows closely at 518 ft./lbs. Remington Ultimate Defense 165 grain hits a 476 ft./lbs., and Hornady Critical Duty pounds at 464 ft./lbs.

This study has changed my outlook on the ammunition I’ll be buying in the future. I’ve been a fan of Hornady Critical Defense because of it’s flex-tip technology that allows for penetration of heavy clothing without clogging a hollow point that would prevent expansion and because it is a clean-shooting ammo without a lot muzzle flash. But, it’s not measuring up there in energy on target. One of my instructors has been touting Fiocchi ammunition for the past couple of years and now I understand why. I’ve always liked Remington Golden Saber. It appears they’re packaging it under a couple of different names, and they all perform well. Speer Gold Dot has been at the top of the charts for takedown performance in actual law enforcement shootings for years and it does well in this study, too. Hopefully, this article has given you some things to think about when picking both the caliber and the brand for your personal protection ammunition.