by Frank Winn, Guns & Gear Editor - Friday, December 16, 2016
We start with some bad news, we think: Christmas is just over a week away. But if you still haven’t shopped for your Carry Lifer, then we have a little good news, too: Christmas is just over a week away. We’ve picked out some practical favorites that are either inexpensive or “scalable,” or both. Not sure what else we can do to help.
We are longtime fans of the ClipDraw, as some readers may recall. It’s a thoroughly “debugged” device that’s been around for 20-plus years (if our math is correct), and is available for a host of handguns.
In case our photo isn’t quite illustrative enough, here’s the rundown. ClipDraws are stout metal clips that attach to your handgun—independent of handedness (or with versions for either)—to make the use of a holster for on-body carry unnecessary. Attachment methods vary: For guns with backplates on their slides, a replacement plate is usual, though on a 1911, the mount portion of the clip fits under a grip panel. At last count, 19 manufacturers of both semi-autos and wheel guns were covered.
If you don’t find your gat in the list, don’t despair: Part of the reason ClipDraw makes our gift “cut” is that we’ve discovered another utility we like very much, and it’s the solution for those “non-major” manufacturers that got us going. The version we’re talking about is the classic “other” solution—ClipDraw dubs it their Universal—and we can hear you rolling your eyes already. Such stopgaps never work, right?
Wrong: We’ve been working a Universal hard with the 3M VHB Adhesive system, and have yet to encounter a hiccup. (We replaced it to test the instructions after about 90 days, but not because we needed to.)
We subscribe to the “carry as much gun as you can” school of thought for many of reasons—round count, ease of manipulation, smallest departure from “main” gun doctrine (though your carry may be your main—a very desirable circumstance), etc. But in the real world, this isn’t always possible, and part of the problem is the “caliber,” so to speak, that holster plus gun adds, especially if you carry inside the waistband. This is what the ClipDraw fixes so well: As long as the waistband of your garments can support the weight of the pistol, such caliber is reduced substantially, along with a slight weight savings. Long story short: You can—and likely will—now be able to carry in a higher percentage of your total wardrobe, and thus more often.
Where the Universal version re-enters the equation and becomes such a great gift idea is its application to ClipDraw’s “big 19” we noted above. An example illustrates this best: As much as we like our backplate mounts, we’ve discovered that the Universal meets our needs even better on our go-to Glock 43. By moving a Universal down the slide, we can get the pistol resting higher. No rocket science needed to see what this may do for access and draw speed. We grant some caution is needed to keep the center of gravity below the top of the belt, but this is a laugher to work out: ClipDraw sells the materials for six experimental positions for $3, and do-overs are as easy as they claim.
We’re not saying “dump holster carry” for CCW by any means; we sure haven’t, and have no plans to. But don’t dismiss the ClipDraw option. It’s a surprisingly robust, clever, inexpensive alternative that solves many problems. (Our full review here.)
It’s a great stocking-stuffer, too. ($29 or less)
We have a hard time not being enthused about L-Tech Ammunition. First and foremost, it’s proving to be a superb product. We’ve only tested it in 9 mm to date, but the results are stellar: Five-shot, 50-yard, one-inch or less groups are easy in several PCCs, and ragged-hole work-ups are commonplace with the SIG P320, CZ P-09, all the 9 mm Glocks, two Kimbers, a Springfield XD, a Remington (more here soon!), an FNS … you get the idea.
Another thing we like is cutting-edge technology. We’ve been testing for ourselves and monitoring the progress of Shell Shock Technologies cases. Good stuff, to say the least, and L-Tech obviously agrees: Both their 124-grain “ball” and 124-grain defensive HP loadings use this incredibly durable, magnetically retrievable (!) and ultra-precise case. It seems the perfect concomitant to L-Tech’s own Full-Stop defensive bullet. We’ve seen the data, and Full-Stop performs with the best out there without resorting to +P pressures and velocities to do so.
It’s this last characteristic that puts it on our gift list. The L-Tech loadings meet just about every stand-alone criteria you could reasonably set based on their respective projectiles, but considered together is where they really shine. Without down-grading defensive performance or up-grading the recoil/report/muzzle flash “punishment” of either, it’s almost impossible to tell the two cartridges apart in actual shooting. This means affordable practice with “ball” at $14/50 that really does prepare you—necessarily, if unhappily—for the feel and performance of their defensive ammunition ($29/50). Three-to-one is the training to defensive round count ratio we’d recommend—eminently giftable.
L-Tech’s website is under construction, but you can reach the company at (606) 423-9782, or at email@example.com
If you’re still stuck for your Carry Lifer’s gift, we have a final, shotgun-sort of expedient courtesy of our friends a Robar—gift certificates.
The beauty is the same as with all such certs: If your recipient is even a trifle particular (and most of us are fuss-budgets of note, we concede), this may be the best way to avoid a wrong choice that is well-intentioned, but unrecoverable.
If your recipient is a modern sporting rifle/AR type, there are great choices from modest (trigger parts NP3ed for long life and smooth performance—$35; and this works, trust us!) to awe-inspiring, long-gun finishing (inside and out) at $470-520. We acknowledge this is a bit of a Carry Life stretch.
But right in the Carry Life wheelhouse is the sort of handgun refinishing that brings performance and beauty back to a workhorse (compare here, for instance), or adds performance with modest cost and virtually no downside. Here, we think of a much-used Glock 43, in fact, of a pair of said stalwarts. One has a Robar set of internals, but no modification, the other a good-but-pricey trigger work-up. We don’t think either is obviously superior, but guess which cost less? $60 with Robar; we’re not saying how much we have in the other. (If we had appreciable hair, we fear “scalped” might come too readily to mind.)
Anyway, there are gobs of good options here for practically any refinish or customization a Carry Lifer could wish for, and remember—partial funding counts.
Now have a Merry Christmas, and Carry on.
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