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60 Years Of Concealed Carry

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John’s 3913 Smith & Wesson 9mm was — and still is — a favorite carry gun.

Colt SAA

I didn’t have to try to decide whether or not a single action was suitable for defense; it was simply all I had to choose from. My choices in that first year out of school were a 7-1/2" Colt SAA .45, a 5-1/2" Ruger Single-Six .22, a 4-5/8" Ruger Blackhawk .357, and a 6-1/2" Ruger Blackhawk .44 Magnum.

My carry choice here was easy. The .22 was too small and the adjustable-sighted Blackhawks didn’t carry easily in the waistband. Today we have all kinds of good holsters offered which allow practically anything to be carried concealed without worrying about adjustable sights or hammers hanging up on clothing. In 1956, for me at least, it was the 7-1/2" Colt stuffed in the waistband with the loading gate open to keep it from sliding down.

This worked fine when standing up and was easily covered with a short jacket. However, it did not work as easily when sitting down; a shorter barrel would’ve, but I didn’t have one. So the .45 Colt rode in my waistband and when I drove it went beside me on the seat. I had a 1953 Mercury, yellow with a black hardtop and yellow leather upholstery. It was my pride and joy!

One Saturday afternoon I was driving through one of the less desirable sections of town when I began to be harassed by several young thugs who were driving dangerously close to my Merc both on the sides and behind. I did not like what was going on or what could possibly happen. I simply laid my Colt on the dash and the carload of would-be toughs disappeared very quickly. I’ve never been without a gun since.

Dogs have been important when it comes to family security. These are John’s malamutes Red and Wolf — and .44 Charter Arms Bulldogs.

1911 Government Model

I went a little more modern shortly after this and bought a surplus 1911 Government Model .45 for the grand sum of $15. This was a great improvement when it came to concealability as it rode so easily in my waistband and — with its shorter barrel and flat profile — was much easier to conceal. I met Diamond Dot in late October 1958, we were married in February 1959 and this Government Model would prove important to us and our family.

By 1965 I’d graduated from college and we had three pre-school age kids. It was time to move from Ohio and the 1911 rode under the driver’s seat all the way across the country to Idaho. From 1969 to 1971 I attended graduate school in Montana every summer. The same Government Model .45 rode in my waistband as I traveled back and forth to Idaho each weekend.

Back at home during the regular year the .45 in my waistband was also my choice for protecting family and self. At the time my area could be considered as having relatively little crime. But the .45 was very comforting …

John’s first CCW gun was a 7-1/2" Colt Single Action .45 — a bit ungainly but it’s what he had.

Charter Arms Bulldog

In 1967 I got one of the early Charter Arms .44 Special Bulldogs. I often stuck it in the top of my boot; it wasn’t very comfortable but was very comforting. One weekend Dot and I went up in the mountains on a Friday afternoon to set up camp and cook for a group of motorcycle trail bikers who were going to travel cross-country and meet us. We drove up the mountain road in a borrowed stick shift van without power steering. It was some of the hardest driving I ever did but we made it. The .44 Bulldog went along.

We were setting up camp when several fellows parked a lot closer to us than I liked and began shooting their .22’s much closer than I liked. I put up with it for a while until enough was enough and then, taking the Bulldog in hand, I faced in a safe direction and fired a couple of 44’s. The group of .22 shooters quickly decided they needed to be somewhere else. I never threatened them, I never pointed a gun at them, I didn’t shoot close to them. But the noise of the .44 was all I needed.

I was carrying the same .44 when Dot and I drove up into the hills to investigate a gold mine as a possible investment. We were traveling with the kids on a trail-like road in our 4x4 Suburban when we came upon a fellow blocking the road and holding a rifle. I don’t have the slightest idea why he was there, but I quickly went to a self-defense mode. Although I didn’t get out of the rig, I unlimbered the Bulldog and had it across my lap as he came up to the door. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I was not happy about the rifle. Finally he decided to let us pass. I don’t believe he ever knew I had that .44 at the ready.

As the kids were growing up we didn’t have a whole lot of money so we spent much of our time doing things that didn’t cost much like camping. The Bulldog always went along. When Dot took up fly-fishing the Bulldog went with her. It was a blued five-shooter with a 3" barrel. Dot learned how to clean it after falling in the river with it in her pocket. Since it was a rare outing when she didn’t fall in at least once, she started carrying a stainless steel version in her vest. Buying a second Bulldog was better than her having to clean the blue one after each trip.

Nearly 40 years ago we took a rare vacation with the kids. The Bulldog was stashed in the rented motorhome we used for the trip to San Francisco. At the time, California was already anti-gun though not as bad as it is now. However, I felt defending my family was more important than any regulations. I wouldn’t consider traveling without being prepared with an easy-carrying sixgun.

A surplus GI 1911 — John’s first Government Model — was flatter and easier to pack than a big-bore revolver.

S&W 9mm

I began to carry the 1911 more often than not and found it fairly easy to conceal just by stuffing it in the waistband of my jeans. Then in the 1980s Smith & Wesson brought out the 9mm Model 3913. I found it just about perfect for concealed carry.

I spent 31 years teaching Accelerated Mathematics to junior high kids and never thought much about needing to be armed until two things happened. As enrollment increased it was necessary to add portable classrooms and I soon found myself separated from the rest of the school (which I thoroughly appreciated as I now had control of both air conditioning and heat).

Although I found this environment much more to my liking than a regular classroom inside the building, something happened which caused a change in my thinking. It was the first school shooting reported in the country. I realized I might be the only person who could possibly prevent such a thing. I was not about to let some madman take the lives of my great kids without doing something about it. Now, of course, we have many school districts which arm some of the teachers. But it was unheard of in those days. (Part 2 continues next issue).

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