Tag Archives: concealed carry weapons

Blast from the Past: Walther 9mm P1 Delivers

4 Feb

walther p1Like most members of the concealed carry community, you’ve probably spent a considerable amount of time browsing the goods at your favorite gun shop.  If you were actually in the market for a handgun at the time, you’ve probably experienced the reality of sticker-shock.

The growing popularity of self-defense equipment, the rise of the “doomsday preppers,” and inflation in general have created an upward price spiral in the firearm industry with no end in sight.

Luckily, there are still some bargains out there if you know where to look.

One of these is the Walther 9mm P1 semi-automatic pistol, a Cold War surplus model imported by Century Arms International.

Not only is the Walther P1 an excellent firearm, but it’s also steeped in history, originating with the renowned WWII era German Luger 9mm pistol.  The Luger was updated during wartime to the Walther P38 and then updated again during the Cold War to the Walther P1 9mm for use by West German Police.

The Walther P1 is made from lightweight aluminum and performs superbly in controlled environments.  Author Scott W. Wagner describes his reaction when first firing the Walther P1 in his article “Century Arms International 9mm Walther P1” at USConcealedCarry.com:

“My first shots from the P1 were fired with ZVS 9mm ball ammo from Century Arms and made me think ‘where have you been all my life?’ Recoil was easily controlled and accuracy — out to 100 yards — was excellent! There were no malfunctions.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

Yet the best selling point about the Walther P1 has nothing to do with the spec sheet.  Century Arms is selling the pistol at a budget-pleasing $325 average price.  This gun will serve well as a lightweight option for carry or for recreational range practice.

The P1 borrowed the trigger system and slide-mounted de-cocking lever from the earlier Walther. It uses an open-top slide-operating mechanism.  The Walther P1 first began production in 1956, before the advent of the high-powered +P and +P+ ammo.

Although the P1 can handle limited +P use, it’s recommended to use high-quality non +P rounds to maintain the structural integrity of this vintage firearm.  As for hollow points, the only glitch is that the first round will load only when there are seven rounds in the magazine instead of the normal eight, which might be a deal-breaker for some purists.

The magazine release is “heel” style at the base of the backstrap.  This is a safety benefit for concealed carry holders, as it prohibits accidental magazine ejection during day-to-day activities.

The Walther P1 is not a high-tech all-purpose firearm for every situation, but if you’ve been searching for a reasonably priced, lightweight, and unobtrusive carry weapon, this little piece of history may be what you are looking for.


Choosing a Knife for Self-Defense

13 Nov

It’s commonly accepted that if you carry a firearm for self-defense, then a knife should also be part of your system.

lapel dagger

A knife is a simple form of force enhancement that is not susceptible to the mechanical malfunctions that can happen with guns.

However, knives come nowhere near a handgun in terms of stopping power and if you have to use a knife for self-defense, you’ll have to get much closer to your adversary than is normally advisable.

However, in last resort cases, you’ll be glad you had a knife instead of nothing but your fists.

Statistically speaking, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever have to use a blade against another person. The knife will usually be used as a tool to cut things like rope and to open packaging, which is useful in and of itself.

Make a point to actually use the knife you carry as part of your self-defense gear. Always return it to its holster or the pocket you clip it to. Using the knife and returning it to its place will help automate the process of accessing it.

If the time should come for you to need to draw it, you’ll know where it is and be able to get to it without fumbling around. Familiarity with your knife and its location is key to an emergency situation.

When it comes to selecting a knife, there are many different makes and styles. Knives aren’t very expensive in the grand scheme of things, so there’s no reason not to own several. You’ll probably end up with one or two that you prefer and that’s normal.

There are also historic designs that inspire some people and they enjoy carrying these for this reason. Author George Hill describes one such knife and its history of being used against the Germans in his article “OSS SOE Lapel Dagger” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“…a small, concealable dagger that they could use to quietly dispatch unsuspecting Nazis standing guard. The knife was a 2-inch, double-edged dagger with no handle. The whole knife was essentially a blade. The rear portion was unsharpened with some line or checkering filed into the metal to provide grip.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

When it comes to blade type, keep in mind that no knife holds its edge forever and will need to be sharpened many times throughout its lifespan.

So-called stainless steel blades are popular today because they require very little maintenance and aren’t prone to rusting.

However, stainless steel blades don’t hold their edge quite as well as high-carbon steel blades. The downside to most knives made of high carbon steel is that they rust more readily.

The final decision is largely a personal one. Both metals work well, but there is no reason not to own a few of each style, just to see how they hold up and perform on a day to day basis.

Shooting Stances for Those with Physical Limitations

2 Oct

Like many other physical disciplines, there is a commonly accepted way to stand and perform. For basic shooting stances, the most commonly used examples are the Isosceles or Weaver positions to aim and fire.

men aiming guns

These so-called standardized movements are taught to almost everyone initially.

The trouble many shooters run into with these common stances is that the instructor may be teaching with the assumption that the shooter is fully-functional physically and has few or no joint or muscle problems.

Few people have perfect bodies without any physical issues and as a result, some people become frustrated with trying to learn the basic positions exactly as they are taught. Some shooters are bent over or have a limited range of motion. Others have arthritis or weak grip strength or something else wrong with them.

Naturally, if you aren’t able to draw, aim, and fire your handgun using the basic techniques comfortably, then it’s time to find a method that works for you.

As author Bruce N. Eimer, PH.D. says in his article “What’s Your Stance?” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“The basic goal of any stance is to put your handgun up into the position where it does the most good. Your stance functions to align your point of aim, your front sight, your rear sight, your dominant eye, and to get all four points into a straight line.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

Receiving professional instruction or learning from videos and magazines are great ways to start, but then it’s up to you to figure out a way to use your weapon as effectively as possible with the body you currently have.

You have to begin somewhere, so there is no harm in starting to learn standardized shooting stances. Yet, if it becomes apparent that these shooting positions aren’t working, the next step is to try variations on what you’re doing until you find something that works for you.

Do the best you can with what you have and focus on continuing to improve. The more familiar you become with yourself and your gun, the easier it will become to see better ways to work around any issues you may have.

And as always, the basics like having good balance, a solid stance, and good control over the gun are paramount concerns. Otherwise, you run a much higher risk of losing some control.

Concealed Carry Handguns: You Can’t Just Have One!

31 Jul

Being able to mix up your regular carrying routing without sacrificing safety is a great way to stay sharp and on top of things. This means varying your carry style, holster, and even the gun you carry.


It can be easy to get stuck in a rut if you only carry the same gun with the same carry method, day in — day out.

Your brain can get so used to this routine that if any part of it changes, you are at a loss.

Failing to change up your routine can lead to complacency, which is dangerous.

In the grand scheme of things, good pistols for self-defense aren’t all that expensive. Their cost is miniscule in comparison to many other things you buy multiples of, such as vehicles. 

Often the gun buying process is approached with the mentality that the gun you ultimately end up buying is the Holy Grail. This will be the one gun you own and the only one you will ever carry. 

Unfortunately, this can pigeonhole your thinking. Some guns are better for certain situations and it is nice to have options when you’re buckling a weapon into place for the day.

Generally speaking, your choices are either some form of semi-automatic or a revolver. Before you discount the capability of revolvers as effective self-defense weapons for the 21st century, read what author Duane A. Daiker has to say about them in his article “Thunder Ranch Model 22: A Serious Carry Gun, Retro-Style!” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“Revolvers have come a long way from the fixed sight, carbon steel, square-butt revolvers of years gone by. New offerings from Smith & Wesson offer high-tech, lightweight frame and cylinder materials, recoil-absorbing soft rubber grips, bright, fiber-optic front sights, and even laser sights.” (Read more about revolvers at USConcealedCarry.com)

If you can afford to purchase one handgun for self-defense, then at some point down the road, you’ll probably be able to buy another one without breaking the bank. It’s sensible to have a few guns to choose from. Much like a selection of apparel, you can pick up the gun that suits you for any occasion on any given day.

And remember that like any other possession, handguns can be bought, sold, and traded for other weapons. This is often the most effective way to learn what guns you like the most since you’ve actually been able to own them for a time and have seen how they work in your day-to-day life.

Educating Yourself about Modifications to Your Handgun

11 Jun

glockSooner or later, you’ll probably want to affect modifications to your handgun. Mods can range from something as simple as different grips all the way to custom sights and metal work.

Many modifications and upgrades can be done at home. At the very least, you’ll need a set of basic tools to remove fasteners.

Many aftermarket upgrade items come with instructions for installation. It’s worth the time to read any instructions and familiarize yourself with what you’ll be doing before you start.

Much of the time, there are also YouTube videos or how-to articles with pictures available online that detail the processes you’ll be going through.

Or, if you know someone who has already made the modifications you have in mind, it may be worth asking them if they ran into any unforeseen problems.

Research doesn’t have to take hours. These days, a simple Google images search for your gun model “+desired modification” will yield hundreds of pictures of the very same modification you’re planning to do.

Image searches are helpful for taking the guesswork out of things and ensuring that you have all the information you need before starting a project.

Internet research is especially important if the gun being modified is your primary carry weapon. You don’t want to have your gun taken apart and in pieces only to find you are missing a part or special tool needed to complete the job.

Some firearm modifications should only be performed by a qualified gunsmith. This is doubly true if metal is going to be removed or added or if work is to be done on the firing mechanism. A good gunsmith will have tools and experience that most people haven’t been trained for.

Research is just as important when picking a gunsmith. If you have a person you trust who has already done good work for you, then definitely stick with them. Even if their waiting list is weeks in advance, it’s worth the wait and a good sign if a gunsmith is busy.

Author Duane A. Daiker talks about choosing someone to do gunsmithing in his article “Ross Sporting Goods Glocksmithing” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“As good as the Glock platform is, there is a lot of room for improvement and personalization. The basic Glock can definitely benefit from some attention by a quality gunsmith. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who think that owning a Dremel tool qualifies them to start grinding plastic off of your G-17.” (Read more about finding a good gunsmith at USConcealedCarry.com)

If you don’t have a gunsmith in mind, start by asking around for recommendations. If possible, find someone who has already had the same work done that you want done. Visit a few gunsmiths before making a final decision. Some may even have photo albums of their work for customers to look at.

And of course, if you are a daily carrier you probably don’t want to be without your gun for a week or even a couple days. Plan in advance and invest in a backup gun to carry while yours is in the shop.

Laser Sights: Should You Get One?

1 May

Laser dot sights are tools that allow you to enhance your low light shooting ability. For times when it’s too dark to see, a laser dot will allow you to see exactly where your firearm is aimed.  Image

Laser sights have quite a bit of argument and controversy surrounding them.

Some people see them as unnecessary complications and distractions that take away from basic shooting fundamentals.

Other people are of the opinion that if the technology works, then why not use it? 

After all, being able to project a red dot in the dark can give you a significant advantage in some situations. 

Regardless of how you feel, the fact remains that laser sights should be considered enhancements of your existing skills. They shouldn’t be thought of as a substitute for solid shooting with a pistol that has factory iron sights. 

Another important thing to consider is the issue of shooting at anything you can’t clearly identify. Of course, no two encounters are the same, but if you are shooting at the outline of a person without being fully able to visually identify the threat, you are taking a huge risk. It is a literal shot in the dark.

This is where having a bright tactical flashlight becomes important. A flashlight allows you to illuminate your threat and potential target, and will help remove uncertainties. It will also temporarily blind the other person, giving you the advantage and maybe even the chance to get away. Running is always preferable to sticking around and exchanging shots.

In an interview, instructor author Kathy Jackson gets an expert Marty Hayes to the question of using laser sights in her article “The Importance of Lasers: An Interview with Marty Hayes” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“…because what I do is I recommend people simply train with their sights and don’t really train a whole lot specifically with the laser—because you don’t need to! You train with your sights. If the laser happens to be there at the moment of truth, that’s a bonus. Otherwise you just carry on as if the laser wasn’t there. (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

Consider a laser sight to be a tool that can enhance your odds of survival in an emergency. Use it as a training aid and don’t let it become a substitute for basic shooting skills. Batteries can die and unlike the TV remote, you don’t have a couple minutes to change the batteries before carrying on with what you were doing.

Ideal Concealed Carry Holsters

5 Dec

An important factor to consider when choosing a concealed carry firearm is the size and shape of your hand. There are actually many types of hands — some are small with thin fingers and others look like they belong to lumberjacks. This is why it is essential to match your hands to the right handgun.  Image

There is a steady rise in popularity of so called “fist guns” in smaller calibers like the .380 acp.

Unfortunately, these downsized guns won’t work for everyone.

Some people will discover their hands are simply not suited to operating these smaller weapons.

Regardless, these small pocket guns do work great for many people and are especially sought after for their low profile and concealment potential.

Author Bob Pilgrim addresses this concealment versus firepower compromise decision in his article “Rapid Access: How Fast Can You Get Your Concealed Pistol Into Action?” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“Being habitually armed is challenging and can be physically uncomfortable. Hence we have witnessed the proliferation of small, lightweight, sub-compact handguns in .32 and .380 ACP calibers. Citizens have compromised on stopping power in the interest of being armed, almost always, with minimal discomfort.” (Read more about smaller concealed carry holsters and compatible weapons here)

If you do choose to carry a smaller handgun, there are a wide selection of holsters to pick from.

For active lifestyles, there are gun retention systems called micro undergarment holsters.  Rather than leather or other synthetic materials, these are made of soft cotton, and are designed to ride on the front of your body at about mid chest level.

This type of holster excels at holding the gun securely during activities like running, twisting, and bending over.

Then there are pocket holsters. They come in several different designs. Some are simple leather holsters that hold the gun securely and can be worn inside most pockets. They do a good job of hiding the gun and often look like a wallet. This style can grip the pistol securely but it may require an extra second or two to disengage the gun from the holster.

If this is a concern, there is a variation on the pocket holsters called a “shoot- through” holster. This is a holster that stays on the gun. Think of it like a protective case for a smart phone that protects the phone while allowing it to be used at the same time.

The shoot- through holsters offer trigger protection and gun stability in your pocket. There is no need to worry about separating the gun from the holster; you simply shoot the gun/holster unit as a whole.

 And finally we have what is called a neck holster. These are holsters worn around the neck and carried on the front of the body. They work well with lighter, smaller guns. This style of holster can be prone to moving about and becoming intermittently visible through clothes. Despite this, it is one of the quicker ways to access your gun and the carry location lends itself to concealment as most won’t expect a gun to materialize from this area.

As always, surprise is a desirable advantage with any concealed carry gun/holster combo. The great thing about many of these holster designs is they allow the carrier to get a firm and ready grip on their gun without actually pulling it out into the daylight where it can be detected.