This is the fourth of five articles about how to pick the right handgun to carry for defensive purposes. Deciding what to carry is a personal decision, but one thing you should consider is the type of situation you’ll be in. Frank Jardim chooses from one of four guns when he arms himself, explaining the advantages of each in given circumstances. You can read the other parts here.
Primary Use: This is my family protection and traveling gun and the one I want with me if I’m concerned circumstances might attract criminals or the dangerously deranged. I want this gun when I take the family out to public events, work at my shop alone at 4 a.m., make a business call in a bad neighborhood, or travel alone by train or car on a long trip.
Holster: It’s a full-size gun and needs a holster. In the cool weather when I can wear a jacket, I use a Galco combat master molded pancake style belt holster that rides high and outside the pants. It’s quick to draw from because it has no securing strap, yet it’s proven reliable in holding the gun solidly in my normal activities. It is not particularly comfortable while sitting in the car.
My alternate carry method, and the main one in warm weather, used to be a small travel backpack where I stashed the big Walther wrapped in a T-shirt hidden and jumbled in along with other travel items. I’ve since replaced that improvisation with a purpose designed Freedom backpack from American Rebel. In addition to being a well-designed and rugged backpack, it includes a hidden padded pocket in the lower portion, accessible via a zipper from either side, to securely hold your loaded handgun. The gun is snugly sandwiched between two thick soft surfaced pads that protect it from damage and keep it oriented for a consistent draw. It looks and functions like a normal backpack, so when I’m on a family outing or traveling I can load it with water, snacks, Band-Aids, extra-clothes, lap-top, etc., etc. It has another feature I find especially comforting. There’s a pocket in the back for a ballistic panel which is purchased separately. The panel adds a bit of weight, but I use it all the time because some threats, like the terrible attack at the Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas last October, can’t be proactively engaged. All you can do is run like heck.
Ammunition: .40 S&W 165 gr. Hydra-Shock JHP. This is the FBI load. Their testing is exhaustive and sufficiently convincing for me. If it mushrooms only half as big as they say it does, it’s still plenty big.
Pros/Cons: Potent caliber and 10-round magazine, good pointing characteristics enhanced by grip inserts, de-cocking button, light weight thanks to polymer frame, three-dot tritium night sights, double action allows immediate use. I prefer this gun to any Glock and it replaced by old 9 mm Browning Hi-Power as a carry gun. The negatives, which are insignificant in my opinion, are the unusual magazine release lever and the polymer frame which makes it slightly bulkier than a steel pistol.