You don’t generally achieve concealed-carry proficiency without noticing a pronounced, often-surprising fact: It isn’t quite as simple as just picking out a smallish pistol and carry method/position.
First, of course, is that proficiency business. Channel your inner “scold” and get to the range. Dry practice. No doggone excuses. Remember, in addition to being a moral obligation, acquiring potentially life-saving proficiency is also fun, so get after it.
Next, however, is getting kitted out: We bet there are several things you’ve discovered are absent—or at least inadequate—in your early choices. At this time of the year, some of these become legit candidates for booty, too, otherwise known as Christmas presents, given or received. You can thank us later for simplifying your holiday season.
Hornady RAPiD® Safe—Here we (unapologetically) indulge in a little throwback, as it were: A year ago, we kicked off “First Gear” with a review of this truly outstanding product. Down the road, and with lots of use under our belt, we remain enamored. But there’s an important Carry Life connection too: Since your carry pistol cannot always be on your hip, ankle, wherever, what do you do when it isn’t?
Store it safely, of course, and we know of just about nothing better to keep it out of unauthorized hands, yet put it back in yours in a hurry if needed. The RAPiD Safe uses RFID or a back-up key for access, and lets you encode up to five valid users of any single box, but also allows you to encode multiple boxes with the same fob, bracelet or “sticker” RFID antenna. With even a little practice, you can retrieve a firearm, load, aim and fire in under four seconds. Now that’s safe storage and a smart application of technology (unlike, say, this much ballyhooed junk).
In short, the RAPiD Safe is just plain excellent, though that’s hardly a surprise considering it comes from Hornady. We found them in stock at a variety of locations, but they’re especially attractive price-wise from our friends at Cabela’s (this version has “keyboard” access, too) and our exact model at Sportsman’s Guide ($145-190).
Crossbreed Holsters—If a gentleman or lady is after a dust-up in the concealed-carry gear arena, holsters are a sure bet. Preferences overlay a bewildering number of options, and are driven by a lot more than simply firearm model. And thus the argument(s) begin.
“Handedness,” carry position and cover/no cover-garment are examples of additional variables, but this list is by no means exhaustive. Another point of wrangle is materials—these days, mainly whether leather or Kydex is the be-all, end-all. It’s enough to bring about a “bah, humbug.” Or twelve.
Perhaps the best solution is to dump the idea that you’ll get away with only one. As we talked about here, weather/climate considerations alone will daunt: The comparative balm of summer may render that November criteria/selection/purchase … er, dubious? Options, therefore, become an essential thing.
All of which brings us to Crossbreed. Well-known for their clever grafting of Kydex for no-bind retention and leather for against-the-skin comfort—like in the Snapslide ($48) or Supertuck® Deluxe ($69)—we’ve now got another dandy from their marque.
Our recommendation adds a carry method, and by the same token the need for additional practice and/or training time, but it’s worth it: ankle carry. The traditional big benefit here is a marriage of “discreet” and no-concession movement in and out of vehicles, all with good comfort.
The downside is access, as most folks try to clear the trouser leg from the inside. This is both understandable and natural as ankle carry is usually done on the inside of the weak side leg.
We suggest an alternative–don’t reach with the master/strong side hand at all for pant/trouser clearing, as this puts tension in the fabric in the wrong places and directions, and occupies the draw hand unnecessarily. Clear instead from outside of the pant leg and higher (nearly knee-ish) with the weak hand. Things will (often) go better. This also makes a pronounced—and telltale—stoop to the gun a thing of the past.
With a little experimentation, you may find you like ankle carry more than you ever dreamed, and a Crossbreed will get you there with comfort and economy ($35).
Tactical Solutions/Browning Buck Mark—Full disclosure: We’re not sure we would qualify as “unbiased evaluators” when it comes to all things Browning Buck Mark. We were fans of the design before it was the design, i.e., when it was called the “Challenger.” Reliable, accurate and easy to care for, we’ve watched with pleasure as the line has expanded to meet almost any conceivable rimfire pistol need.
Now before you get those Christmas socks in a snarl, we grant that a fine Buck Mark isn’t within normal Carry Life purview due to size and caliber (big for carry, and .22LR is a questionable fight-stopper). On the other hand, we’d insist anything that makes practice easier and more effective would have benefits to a Carry Life over the long haul … and fun, so shush.
But perfect just as it ships for everything? We doubt even Browning would go quite that far, and that’s where Tactical Solutions of Boise, Idaho, enters the picture. If you have a Buck Mark fan on your list, you might risk a little gentle probing to see if TacSol can answer a wish. This is especially true for a somewhat vintage pistol: Suppressors and red-dot sights are everywhere these days, and the folks in Boise have made it so that butter-smooth-shooting older versions of the Buck Mark won’t get left behind.
In the first case, consider a Trail-Lite™ threaded barrel. These will pop on most frames with almost preposterous ease—check for a safe (empty) pistol, three screws out, old barrel off/new barrel on, three screws back in. Bingo! ($240)
Another boon for those older or more “standard” pistols is a Trail-Lite™ scope base. If you’ve got a flat-topped gun, a red-dot (like C-More’s STS) is a no-joy combination. Enter TacSol, however, and it’s slightly more than pocket change to have that super-fast sight acquisition sizzling away from a Picatinny/Weaver-compatible top-strap and rail combo ($33).
Keep in mind that the two screws you’re messing with for the sight base are two of the three involved in a barrel swap. Does make you think, doesn’t it?Now shop, train and Carry on.