Category Archives: Handguns

“High Caps” & Handicaps

Physically-challenged gun owners are perhaps more cruelly “handicapped” by magazine capacity limits than anyone else. Here are some of the widely overlooked reasons why.

The history of anti-gun politicians practicing Band-Aid therapy for cancer by passing magazine capacity limits—and ignoring the terrible side effects—goes back more than a score of years. While most gunfights don’t require the defender to fire more than 10 rounds, some do. In recent years, LAPD has seen about 5 percent of their shootings go over 16 rounds per officer, and NYPD, 3 percent.

Those which exceed 10 rounds are, of course, greater in number. Consider that some of those cops were backed up by other officers also shooting. Most armed-citizen cases involve a lone defender. And remember, the bad guys the cops have to shoot it out with, from New York City to Los Angeles, are the very same bad guys the citizens arm themselves against.

And now, imagine you’re in that high-volume firefight on the end of the bell curve, have to reload a low capacity gun… and you’re handicapped to boot.


Springfield Armory XD(M) 5.25 pistol holds 20 rounds of 9mm, a
capacity that in some cases can be the difference between
survival and death. Photo: Gail Pepin

Run… Hide… Fight?

The current protocol suggested by authorities for innocent victims present when a mass-murderer opens fire is the continuum of “Run, Hide, Fight.” Run away, and since you can’t outrun a bullet, hope the killer targets some other poor, helpless SOB instead of you. Hide, hopefully where he can’t find and murder you, or behind something so solid he can’t come through it after you, or shoot you through it. Only after that, they suggest, should you fight.

Well, guess what. When you’re in a wheelchair, when you can’t move quickly, “Run” and “Hide” are off the table from the first moment the threat explodes upon you. The “Fight” element is all you’ve got left, and it’s not even an option anymore, it’s your only resort.


Run, Hide, Fight? For this shooter, “run” and “hide” aren’t
practical. For the last resort of Fight, he has wisely chosen
a “high-capacity” Glock. Photo: Gail Pepin

Less Visible Disabilities

Obviously, the guy in the wheelchair ain’t runnin’ or hidin’ no place. Less obvious is the fact that for every chair-bound disability sufferer, there are many more people with bad knees, bad ankles, bad feet, bad hips, etc., who simply can’t run. They can’t outpace the mad slasher chasing them with a knife and can’t get to cover from opposing gunfire before a bullet finds them. When they do get to cover, they’ll have a hell of a hard time kneeling behind the engine block or whatever, and a harder time getting up and moving to a better position if they’re outflanked.

Chair or cane or walker, or maybe ambulatory but inflexible and/or slow, these potential murder victims have only one chance to survive and to protect others if they’re the only one with a gun. That chance is, shoot back until the threat is neutralized. Marksmanship degradation under stress and fast movement or skillful use of cover by bad guys may require a lot of bullets for the guardian—whether he or she was appointed by a government or by fate—to get the situation under control. The bad guy may be wearing body armor (North Hollywood, Aurora), which soaks up several bullets before the good guy can realize it’s time to go to Plan B for a head or pelvis shot.

Drugs, pain-deadening alcohol, psychosis or rage can turn the attacker into a “bullet sponge” who won’t stop his murder attempt until he has been shot many times. Limit the rescuer to 7 shots in his or her gun as in the original New York SAFE Act, or 10 as in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland and several other jurisdictions, and we have the fatal pause of the reload for any good guy, but particularly the handicapped one who couldn’t move out of the line of fire or reach—and take—cover. You’ve doomed him to be caught in the open, helpless, for several seconds while reloading under fire. It’s like telling one boxer to lower his arms and stand for a few seconds to be a punching bag for his opponent.

What of the 1-armed shooter? Beyond the obvious amputee, you have any of the rest of us who has an arm in a sling from an ordinary accident, or takes a wound in an upper limb early in the fight. The 1-handed reload can be done, but it takes significantly longer. During each extra second, his opponent can be firing 4 or 5 shots. If the good guy doesn’t have to reload, his window to the next shot that could save his innocent life is only a 0.20- to a 0.25-second.

Given that mass-murderers bring multiple guns to their death orgies more often than not, and by definition don’t obey “magazine capacity limits” or other laws anyway, such “limit laws” are useless except for serving purposes of political agendas. They only limit the ability of the law-abiding to defend the innocent.

And such ill-conceived, poorly-researched laws have their cruelest, most disparate negative impact on the physically disabled members of society.
By Massad Ayoob

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Downsizing Defense

The 9mm is increasing in popularity—again—but are
the choices being made for the right reasons?

For a couple of years now, there has been a building wave, though not yet a tsunami by any means, of law enforcement agencies “powering down” from .40’s, .45’s and .357 SIG’s to 9mm pistols for duty.

I saw it clearly in evidence this year while teaching at the annual conference of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, and I’m seeing it in armed citizen classes as well. There are some good reasons for it, and at least one debatable rationale.


Arrowed brass and muzzle orientation show 9mm controllability
as Mas runs Ruger SR9 1-handed.

Good News 9mm

There are at least three advantages to choosing this least powerful of accepted “service calibers.” Firepower is one. When the cartridges are narrower, you can fit more of them into a gun the same size. Assuming the user has a fully loaded pistol and two full spare magazines on his or her belt, a single-stack .45 with 8-round mags puts 9 in the gun, with a total of 25 rounds at the armed person’s disposal. But the same individual so outfitted with a 17+1 9mm Glock 17 or S&W M&P9 can go 18 rounds before needing to reload and 52 rounds total on their person.

Milder recoil is another advantage of the 9mm over the larger calibers. It will be particularly important to new shooters and to the disabled shooter or one with physical strength issues.

Finally, there is the matter of ammo cost. The universal popularity of the 9mm Luger cartridge allows manufacturers to take advantage of economies of scale. Lead, copper and brass ain’t cheap, and the larger cartridge uses more of each, making the bigger rounds more expensive for obvious reasons.


On the other hand, no 9mm will give you the expanded diameter of this Federal HST +P .45 ACP,
which Mas used to instantly drop a charging hog with neck-into-chest shot.

The Power Question

A growing mantra says, “Service pistol calibers all perform the same, so the 9mm is the same as larger calibers with less recoil and more rounds on board.” I submit that this may be going just too far.

Is the 9mm adequate in terms of service pistol power potential? I think so. Our best 147-grain subsonic loads such as the Winchester Ranger and the Federal HST have been proven in Los Angeles and Portland, respectively, to be as good as the old .38 Special 158-grain +P lead hollowpoint that worked so well from Miami to Chicago and beyond. They’re actually a little more powerful, in fact, and vastly more satisfactory in performance than the old-style, cup-and-core subsonic 9mm 147, which had spotty performance. Lighter 9mm bullets going faster seem to be even more dynamic. The Speer Gold Dot 124-grain +P at 1,220 fps has delivered superb performance from Las Vegas Metro to NYPD. Winchester’s 127-grain +P+ at 1,250 fps has worked decisively from Orlando to San Bernardino County. They can be seen as equivalent to a low-end .357 Magnum.

However, new bullet technology has also applied to larger calibers. A 155-grain .40 S&W hollowpoint at 1,200 fps is awfully close to a full-power 158-grain .357 Magnum at 1,240. From LAPD to San Diego and elsewhere, the 230-grain .45 ACP (particularly in the +P 950 fps load) has earned an excellent reputation. The bigger bullet expands wider, having “more lead to spread.” Moreover, in cold weather when inert material from heavy clothing can pack a hollow bullet nose and turn it into ball, it would be good if it turned into big ball. Will a fraction of an inch in bullet diameter matter? It certainly can. We often hear trauma surgeons say, “Another tenth of an inch to the side and that shot would have been fatal.” And conversely, “If the wound path had gone a tiny fraction of an inch to the other side, it would have missed the spine.” I want those fractions of an inch working for the folks on my side.


The standard magazine of a 9mm Springfield Armory XD(M) holds 19 rounds,
for a total of 20 if the chamber is loaded. Smaller cartridges allow
higher capacity while keeping gun size down.

Personal Choices

We all have to make our own choices. Last year I carried a .45 about a third of the time and 9mm (with 127-grain +P+) the rest, usually in double-stack Glocks or a 20-shot Springfield Armory XD(M). In jurisdictions with magazine capacity limitations, and in cold weather for the reason above, I’ll go .45. But when traveling to teach, with an 11-pound airline ammo limit, I can carry a lot more 9mm cartridges than .45 ACP.

For every agency, and indeed every individual, choice should follow rational cost/benefit analysis specific to our own unique needs. The 9mm choice can certainly make sense, but said choice needs to be made for valid reasons to answer genuine needs, and those needs are not necessarily the same for all of us, all of the time.
By Massad Ayoob

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EAA Witness Pavona’s Accessory to Concealed Carry

Geared specifically to women, the EAA Witness Pavona, a 9mm pistol that comes is a variety of colors, now ships with a concealed carry messenger purse or compartment purse in which to carry it. Offering designs such as Cork Leather, Brown Floral, and Black Snake, the purses provide a unique and stylish means of carrying the Pavona.

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Exclusive: DoubleTap Tactical Pocket Pistol Review

DoubleTap Defense LLC should get some kind of award for having one of the clearest product names ever. The St. Louis, Mo.-based company’s Tactical Pocket Pistol, as it is called, enters a very active concealed carry firearms market with a unique offering — basically, a high-quality, powerful derringer-style pistol.

What’s in a name?


As you know, a double tap is two well-aimed shots from a firearm, sometimes called a controlled pair. The key to the double tap is not so much the speed of shooting two shots, but rather the effectiveness of putting two shots into a specific target. The DoubleTap pistol you see here carries two rounds in two barrels, one on top of the other.


“Tactical” is a word that at times loses its way in terms of meaning, especially in the firearms industry. In the case of this pistol, however, it can mean several things:

  • This is a thoroughly modern pistol in design and manufacture and therefore safe, durable, and reliable in virtually any environment.
  • Available in two barrel configurations, the pistol can fire premium self-defense cartridges in two calibers: .45 ACP or 9mm.
  • DSC_6802The pistol offers a means of providing a quick reload.


This pistol’s specifications — especially its .665-inch width and 15-ounce weight — make it ideal for pocket carry. Dimensionally, it measures only 5.5 inches in length and 3.9 inches in height. It’s small, but it’s not too small that you can’t get a decent grip on it.


With its relatively low ammunition capacity and not-a-revolver-not-an-auto-loader design, this lightweight, three-inch double-barreled handgun really has only one purpose in mind: last-ditch self defense in extremely close quarters where one or two shots may be all that’s needed to end or escape from an attack.

DSC_6797I’ve had the DoubleTap Tactical Pocket Pistol in my front pants pocket, rear pants pocket, sport coat side pocket, and more. In terms of carry-ability, it seems to be the quintessential pocket gun — thinner than a J-frame revolver and most “pocket” nines or .380’s. For ammunition capacity, two rounds is better than one, which is also better than none.

So far, the DoubleTap Tactical Pocket Pistol is true to its name. Stay tuned for a report from the range.

— Mark Kakkuri

The Long And The Short Of It

Are Long-BARRELED Handguns
More Accurate? Not Always.

Back in the ’60’s, when I was a kid-shooting bull’s-eye, I noticed most of the young and prime-of-life shooters used long-barreled pistols. The S&W Model 41 with 7-inch tube, the High Standard Supermatic series with fluted 7.25-inch barrel, and the 6-7/8-inch Ruger Mark I. The older guys, however, were much likelier to “go short” with a 5.5-inch heavy barrel on their Smith, H-S or Ruger. When I asked why, in those days before optical sights on .22 target pistols, I always got the same answer: “When my eyes got older, I could see the front sight better with a shorter sight radius.”

Well, the years went by quick. When baby Glocks came out in the mid-1990’s a lot of folks, including me, discovered we often shot tighter from the bench rest than with their longer-barreled brethren. The same proved true a couple of years later when Glock brought out the subcompact .45 ACP Glock 30. It “benched” a tad tighter than their full-size G21. Proportionally more rigid shorter barrels (some 3.8-inch on the G30, 3.42-inch on the others) were theorized to be the reason. Back then, I managed to win the Stock Service Pistol division at an IDPA match with a little Glock 26, but wrote it off as either luck or a fluke, and went back to the Glock 17 and similar size guns for that sort of thing.


Mas runs his Glock 34 over the GSSF Indoor course
(shot outdoors here), and comes up short on center-X hits.


Mas’ G26 is tracking to the next target, with brass in the air from
his last double tap, at the GSSF Subcompact event in Clearwater,
Fla., earlier this year.

Time Goes On

My friend Danny Ryan, who runs the GSSF (Glock Sport Shooting Foundation), mentioned a couple of years ago master shooters such as Bryan Dover, Grady Whitelaw and Mike Ross won the overall MatchMeister title at some GSSF events—beating the scores fired with full-size Glocks by all comers, including themselves. James Linebarger later joined this elite list. Intrigued, I decided to try the little Glock 26 myself, instead of the 4.5-inch G17 I usually shot in Master Stock.

It turned out my scores with the little Glock were about the same, if not a bit better, than what I did with the full-size gun and the same 9mm ammo. In September 2012, I managed to take second place in Master Stock at the Salt Lake City GSSF shoot, running a G26 against full-size Glocks. (Bryan Dover beat me, but that’s like being beaten by Jerry Miculek at a revolver match or Rob Leatham at the Single Stack Classic: it makes you feel proud of placing second.)

Time marched on. In December 2013, I borrowed my girlfriend’s little Glock 26 for an IDPA match, so I could shoot the backup gun side event and the main match with the same gun, and managed to win First Master in Stock Service Pistol division with it. A month later, at a GSSF match in Clearwater, Fla., it was all I could do to place Top 10 in Master Stock against the service-size Glocks and Top 15 against the long barrel ones. I managed Top 3 in both Subcompact division with the Glock 26 and Major Sub with the .45 ACP Glock 30. The G30 had always been my best gun at GSSF, giving me wins in Major Sub a couple of times in the past. A pattern was emerging.

In January 2014, I went in the other direction, shooting a 5.3-inch barrel Glock 34 at an IDPA match, and absolutely tanked, blowing shots I thought I should have made. I went home and set up the Glock Indoor course of fire, 50 rounds run in 5- and 10-round strings under fixed time, and shot it back-to-back with both the G26 and the G34. Each was set up with similar glowing green fixed sights, Ameri-Glo on the little one and Tritium Fiber Optic on the long one. Trigger pulls were an identical 4.5-pounds in the Glock OEM “sport shooting” configuration. The same ammo was used: Winchester 147-grain 9mm jacketed subsonic. Each turned in 500 out of 500 points on the 12- to 75-foot course, all standing 2-hand—but the G26 had put 42 of those hits in the 4-inch diameter center-X tie-breaker ring, and the G34, only 36.


The curve at the butt of the baby Glock locks into the hollow of
Mas’ palm (arrow) in a way larger pistols can’t. Yes, that’s a
17-round Glock 17 magazine in the G26.


Conventional wisdom says you should shoot better with the Glock 34 (right)
than with the little Glock 26 (left). Mas was surprised after shooting both
with the same 147-grain Winchester 9mm ammo on the same course of fire,
out to 25 yards. The targets don’t lie.

Go Figure

When the term “go figure” comes up, we should probably, well, go figure. Counter-intuitive results generally have explainable causes. Near as I can determine, a couple of things are going on with me. First, the old eyes thing has caught up with me. Closer front sights seem to let me focus on them better at this time in my life. Another factor is grip-shape. The truncated butts of the little Glocks have a curve to them that exactly fits the hollow of my palm at the base of the thumb, between the thenar and the hypothenar, and seem to “lock-in” at that point a little better.

Why something happens is helpful to know, but the fact something happens is even more important. Right now, counterintuitive as it is, this old guy and his old eyes are going to take nothing but subcompact Glocks to the next GSSF match.
By Massad Ayoob

Glock Sport Shooting Foundation
6000 Highlands Pkwy
Smyrna, GA 30082
(770) 437-4718

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Exclusive: Galco Side Snap Scabbard for Glock 17

Glock’s Model 17 — the full-size, double-stack 9mm that took the firearms industry by storm in the 80’s — continues to impress even as it enters its fourth generation (or “Gen4”). Over the years, it has proven unquestioningly reliable and utterly durable. In fact, some say the Glock 17 is the answer to the question, “If you could have only one gun, what would it be?” You’re welcome to answer that question by commenting below, but I want to add another twist: If the Glock 17 is that “one gun,” how would you carry it concealed? Remember, we’re talking about a full-size duty pistol that weighs over 32 ounces loaded and measures almost eight inches in length.

DSC_6370smBecause of Glock’s popularity in the marketplace, holsters for duty carry and concealed carry abound, including Galco’s Side Snap Scabbard. Constructed of premium steerhide, the Side Snap Scabbard — now in its second generation — offers a belt slide style, outside-the-waistband holster that attaches (or removes) quickly via two snap straps. Not only is it up to the task of carrying the Glock 17’s sheer size and weight, it also does a decent job of setting up for concealment.

Managing the Glock 17’s Size and Weight

The Side Snap Scabbard feels like a robust leather holster. And it is. The premium steerhide that comprises its construction is appropriately thick and strong and reinforced at the right places. Even with the Glock 17 on board, the holster flexes where it needs to and remains firm where it should. Attaching it to your belt with the side snaps takes some muscle but you are rewarded with a snug, close fit all around.

Setting up the Glock 17 for Concealment

Worn with a proper gun belt buckled tight, the Side Snap Scabbard and Glock 17 worked best at 4 or 5 o’clock, which set the gun up well for concealment. With the Glock 17 in the holster, the stocks pointed up into my back and the rear sights ended up under where my right arm naturally fell. These points, as well as the covered muzzle, all hid well under a loose shirt as long as I wasn’t doing any extreme movements. While the Glock 17 was hidden, it’s so much gun that I always knew it was there. But I wore it with reasonable comfort for several days, all day.

DSC_6368smRetailing for $124.95, the Side Snap Scabbard comes in left- or right-handed models and offers a tension adjustment screw as well as a reinforced mouth.

Now, the question: If you could have only one gun (or one holster), what would it be?

— Mark Kakkuri

Learn more about Glock and Galco Gunleather at the Guns Magazine Product Index.

Exclusive: The Taurus View Pre-Review

Trending up: The number of autoloading pistols that are trimming down.

As concealed carry continues to increase in popularity, smallish nines and 380’s are heading to front pockets where snub-nosed revolvers used to rule. Now, however, at least one revolver has joined the trimming down trend: The Taurus View is a .38 Special based on the company’s Model 85, which is about the same size as a J-frame. Tagged the “View,” this Taurus sports an clear panel on its right side that lets you see the gun’s fire control system. While it is interesting to see these things, my interest in this gun revolves around its mighty short barrel, unique stocks, and exceptionally light weight.

DSC_6388smSnubbies forever had two-inch barrels. Most still do. And even when they’re 1.875 inches we call them two inches. Now, however, Taurus defies our tendency round up by offering a 1.41 inch barrel on the View. If this short-barreled revolver grows in popularity, I’m guessing we’ll be rethinking how we refer to barrel lengths. My bold prediction: We’ll call them “one and a half inch” barrels. Anyways, besides the short barrel, the View stands at a mere 3.5” in height and 5.67” in length. In my average-sized hands, you can see how the View begins to disappear.

DSC_6378smOpposite the short barrel, the View sports very short stocks which are also quite thin. There’s not much to hold on to, and while this is great for concealment, I’m concerned about what happens when I actually fire it. In addition to the shortness of stocks, when you look at them from the rear you can see that they are molded to conform to a right-handed shooter’s leg or hip. That’s right, they look like they’re bent.

Finally, the View weighs only 9 ounces.

With the short barrel, short stocks, and light weight, it sure carries well in a front pocket. It’s so good I am already trying to justify what might turn out to be an awful shooting experience marked by pathetic accuracy and a painful shooting hand. No, I haven’t fired the View yet. But I sure like carrying it around in my front pocket. Stay tuned for my range report.

Any predictions on how it will shoot and feel on the range?

— Mark Kakkuri

Get more information on Taurus International Manufacturing and other firearms related companies at the American Handgunner Company Index.

Exclusive: DeSantis Mini Scabbard for Viridian-Equipped Ruger LC9

Lasers and lights are fast becoming normal accessories in personal defense pistols and very handy ones at that. Except when they aren’t truly built in and then literally get in the way of using a favorite holster.

Take the Ruger LC9 with the exclusive Viridian tactical light, for example. The LC9 is an outstanding defensive pistol: seven rounds of 9mm; long, smooth double-action trigger; durable, accurate, and reliable. It even has an external safety that clicks on and off, 1911-style. Add the tactical light — an exclusive offering from Viridian, a premier manufacturer of lasers and lights — and you have a great defensive pistol made even better. The Viridian light sports some great features: It can turn on automatically when you draw or you can turn it on manually. The light can be a bright, steady beam that covers more area, horizontally, than other lights or you can set it to function as a blinding strobe.

!DSC_6336 - CopyWhile the Viridian light-equipped Ruger LC9 comes with a pocket holster that gladly accommodates the size of the gun with the light — a nice touch — the LC9 is the kind of gun that just carries better in an inside or outside the waistband holster. Trouble is, not many holster manufacturers make an IWB or OWB holster for it. Moreover, the LC9’s standard magazine baseplates offer a very good extension to accommodate a pinky finger. But the extension doesn’t do very well when carried in a pocket. You can swap the extended baseplate for a flush baseplate but then you lose a bit of purchase. So we’re back to longing for an outside-the-pocket holster. This is where DeSantis Gunhide comes to the rescue. In an exclusive arrangement with Viridian, DeSantis offers a right-handed, outside the waistband Mini Scabbard that fits and complements this gun perfectly.

!DSC_6338 - CopyA simple design featuring black, unlined leather, the DeSantis Mini Scabbard envelopes the gun in a carrier which is attached to a leather belt loop. The loop is thick and wide and features a cutout in the middle through which a user’s belt loop should pass. Because the LC9 is a lightweight gun, the robust construction of the Mini Scabbard is more than enough to keep the rig stable. Wear up to a 1-½ inch gun belt with this holster and it’ll pull in relatively close — not as tight as carrying inside the waistband, of course, but good enough to hide with a couple of T-shirts or an untucked button shirt draped over it.

The Mini Scabbard holds the LC9 at a slight forward cant and offers a screw to adjust the amount of tension the carrier puts on the gun. Because unlined leather characteristically has relatively high friction, I didn’t need to add any tension to the screw at all and the LC9 rode securely at my side.

The cant and depth at which the Mini Scabbard carries the LC9 is, to use a technical term, just right. It’s right where your right hand want wants to go to draw the LC9. And it’s literally just right — no left-handed version is currently available.

!DSC_6354 - CopyThe DeSantis Mini Scabbard for Viridian-equipped Ruger LC9’s retail for $58.99 and is only available from Viridian.

Let us know if you’ve had to deal with finding a new holster for a laser- or light-equipped handgun…

— Mark Kakkuri

Get more information on Viridian, DeSantis, and other firearms related companies at the GUNS Magazine Product Index.

Exclusive: Carry that J-Frame Inside the Waistband

For decades, Smith & Wesson’s ubiquitous J-frame revolver has served law enforcement and civilians as a backup gun or primary concealed carry gun. While it at times gets a bad rap for being difficult to shoot and slow to reload, this diminutive 5-round revolver has nonetheless ridden hidden in more pockets than perhaps any other gun. While other firearms manufacturers design and manufacture smaller and smaller guns, the J-frame still reigns supreme in the hearts — and pockets — of many.

While pocket carry has distinct advantages, it isn’t, of course, the only place to carry a J-frame. I’m going to argue that a J-frame carries just as well, if not better, in an inside the waistband holster. Already objections are coming to mind, such as these three: A J-frame is 1) too thick and 2) too short for really good inside the waistband carry. Or, 3) if you’re going to carry inside the waistband, then carry more gun.

DSC_6161 - Copy These are fair objections but easily mitigated, especially if you carry a J-frame in the right holster. The S&W 340 PD you see here rides in an American Holster Company Invisi-Tuck holster, one of a few holsters that make the inside the waistband carry of a J-frame not just possible but preferred. Let’s see how it addresses the objections, one by one.

Objection 1: A J-frame is too thick.

While small and light, revolvers carried inside the waistband usually put the cylinder, the thickest part of the gun, at the place where it would be least comfortable — between a wearer’s belt and his or her waist. And this is exactly what happens with the Invisi-Tuck. Not only does the revolver’s cylinder end up where it would require the most space, the holster adds a piece of supporting leather around the mouth of the carrier. Theoretically, because of all the space taken up, this type of design should be less comfortable, but practically it is not. The Invisi-Tuck instead carries the 340 PD comfortably, especially at the 4 o’clock position.

Objection 2: A J-frame is too short.

With stocks that barely sit above the beltline and only allow a two-fingered grip, a J-frame holstered inside the waistband may seem difficult to grasp and draw. Granted, you do have get used to grasping the short stocks but the Invisi-Tuck holster offers an accessible grip on the J-frame. Furthermore, since the Invisi-Tuck allows adjustment in depth of carry, setting the J-frame to carry high helps keep the stocks up more.

DSC_6163 - CopyNot only are the stocks relatively short, but also on the front end of the gun is a less-than-two-inch barrel, which means that there’s little to provide helpful leverage in keeping the gun stable in the holster. Thankfully, the Invisi-Tuck’s molded leather carrier works in conjunction with belt tension to keep the J-frame in place.

Objection 3: You might as well carry a larger gun.

With the right holster, carrying inside the waistband provides a stable platform for guns of many different sizes and shapes. So why not go larger than the hard-to-shoot, low-capacity J-frame?

  • Because the J-frame, being small and light, is easy to carry.
  • Because some who carry concealed think “five to stay alive” is enough for civilian carry. And the caliber options are quite wide for snubbies.
  • Because some really like shooting a J-frame and are fairly accurate with it.
  • Because some prefer the reliabity and operation of a revolver.

And so on. Additionally, while we all have heard about “comfortable vs. comforting,” carrying a J-frame in the Invisi-Tuck actually qualifies as both.

If you carry a J-frame or similar revolver, how do you prefer to carry it?

— Mark Kakkuri

Get more information on Smith & Wesson and other firearms related companies at the GUNS Magazine Product Index.

Exclusive: Taurus PT 1911 AL-R

Near the top of my list of Unsung Handgun Heroes resides a Taurus PT 1911 AL-R, a great house gun or car gun with a long list of standard features and, before it was discontinued by Taurus, a decent price tag. At first glance, you might not like it, but I’ll declare that after a few years of use, Taurus’ take on the 1911 makes this classic fighting pistol more useful than ever. If you can find one, you should buy it.

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Now in its 103rd year of service, the 1911 design will never go away. Part of the reason is because manufacturers such as Taurus create 1911’s such as the one you see pictured here. Taurus currently offers nine 1911 variants. This Taurus PT 1911 sports an aluminum frame and Picatinny rail (hence, “AL-R”) and 19 standard features that on other pistols can be costly upgrades. Standard on this pistol: second 8-round magazine; extended magazine release; beveled magazine well; front and rear slide serrations; ambidextrous safety; 30 LPI checkering on the front strap ; 30 LPI checkering on the mainspring housing; 30 LPI checkering on the trigger guard; Novak low-profile standard sights; custom shop trigger job; skeleton-serrated trigger; target hammer; beavertail grip safety with memory pad; custom internal extractor; lowered and flared ejection port; polished feed ramp and barrel throat; custom-fit barrrel with gauged bushing; full length guide rod and reverse plug; and custom slide to frame fit.


All of these features pile on top of the classic Government model configuration and, in the Taurus PT 1911 AL-R, measure out to an overall length of 8.5 inches and a weight of 33.6 ounces. As such, this pistol’s best use is duty as a house gun or car gun. Yes, you can carry it concealed, but not well. It’s just better deployed elsewhere, especially when you can add a light or laser to its Picatinny rail.


Well Priced

Given the list of standard features and the pistol’s original MSRP of $870, the Taurus PT 1911 AL-R immediately strikes as a tremendous value. And it is. You get a lot of custom features without having to pay a typical 1911 custom price. My three favorite standard features on this 1911 are the ones that for me increase the functionality: the front and rear slide serrations, the 30 LPI checkering on the front strap, and the custom shop trigger job. These simply make the PT 1911 AL-R an easier gun to handle and shoot. Prices for used PT 1911 AL-R’s will probably run well south of $870; that can only mean greater value.



My three years of experience with the PT 1911 AL-R– which includes hundreds of rounds fired downrange — have proven the pistol to be an accurate, reliable handgun. It wasn’t perfect out of the box; a couple early rounds got hung up on the feed ramp and a couple failed to extract. But after cleaning and lubricating — religiously — and firing more rounds, the PT 1911 AL-R has ran well. Firing this gun produced a bit more kick than I expected from a full-sized 1911 but the front-strap checkering and the grip panels made muzzle control and target re-aquisition very manageable.


Finding a used Taurus PT 1911 AL-R might prove difficult as the gun wasn’t offered for long. If you can’t find one, Taurus offers two other PT 1911’s with Picatinny rails but neither of those with the lightweight, aluminum frame. Of the railed models, the Taurus PT 1911SS-1 retails for $944.88 and weighs in at 32 ounces, 1.6 ounces less than the AL-R version. So while you can buy a current Taurus PT 1911 that’s lightweight and equipped with a rail, the PT 1911 AL-R was the original and on the used market, should be available for far less than retail.

What guns are on your list of Unsung Handgun Heroes?

— Mark Kakkuri

Get more information on Taurus International Manufacturing and other firearms related companies at the American Handgunner Company Index.