60 Years of Concealed Carry Part II

Comfort, Practicality, Perennial Favorites

Campfire, Ruger, Smith & Wesson

Check John’s pants pocket, vest pocket and chest pocket and you’ll find an S&W M340 .357, a Ruger LCPII .380, and a North American .22 Short Mini-Revolver.

As I mentioned last month, when I was teaching I felt protecting my students was much more important than any regulations. Of course, I had to be able to be armed without being detected. In those days you could also hug students without any problems arising and I always had kids hanging on me. But I couldn’t take the chance of them brushing up against a concealed weapon. The only answer it seemed to me was to carry a Smith J-Frame snubbie in the top of my boot on the inside of my leg.

My Chiefs Special rode there every day. I think I still have the mark on my leg caused by the cylinder of that very comforting .38. Only one other person in the building knew I was armed. That was the School Resource Officer who was a regular police officer assigned to each of the schools — both for protection and to try to keep kids from getting into trouble. When I told him I was carrying, his response was “now there are at least two of us available” in case the unthinkable happened.

The Chiefs Special I carried started life as a blued Model 36. I sent it to Teddy Jacobson who tuned it and bobbed the hammer. It was then finished in satin nickel and fitted with custom stocks from BluMagnum. For the times I carried it on my belt, I found an old Buchheimer tension-screw holster that could be worn cross-draw or strong side. It worked perfectly not only for the original Chiefs Special but for other S&W J-Frames as well as Colt’s Detective Specials and Cobras.

Campfire revolvers

Two Js, One K: A pair of John’s S&W Chiefs Specials compared to his bigger six-shot M&P. We’re talking .38 Special all the way around.

Downsizing a Bit

Much of my life has been spent wandering the wilds around my home area. During these times I was always armed with a Perfect Packin’ Pistol — a large-framed double- or single-action sixgun with a 4 or 5-1/2″ barrel. It was usually chambered in .45 Colt or .44 Special, sometimes .357, .41 or .44 Magnum, and carried in a Tom Threepersons-style holster. This combination was easy to conceal under a jacket or vest.

Carrying any one of these under normal everyday circumstances is also very comforting but as I’ve gotten older, I’m more interested in being comfortable in most situations instead of being comforted. I still carry these sixguns occasionally along with a 1911 or Browning Hi-Power.

I especially appreciate the Ruger Compact Americans for easy carrying. Both the 9mm or .45 versions are easy to pack and totally reliable. These newer polymer-framed semi-autos are as easy to operate as a revolver. In my line of work I’m very fortunate to have many guns to choose from for concealed carry. One of the latest offerings from Springfield Armory is the EMP4 — a downsized 1911 chambered in 9mm with adjustable sights. It comes with a polymer holster and with today’s choices in excellent 9mm ammunition, I find it to be a very good concealed carry choice.

For years I emphasized Perfect Packin’ Pistols. But at this stage in my life I mostly go with Perfect Packin’ Pocket Pistols for concealed carry. They’re small, lightweight, easily hidden and require only a pull of the trigger to operate.

Of course, S&W J-Frames are still a favorite with my most-used one being a scandium/titanium .357 loaded with .38 Special +Ps. It has been totally tuned and ported by Mag-na-port and also fitted with a high-visibility green front sight. Over the years I’ve gathered up several J-Frames — the Chiefs Special (both steel and alloy) and the shrouded-hammer Bodyguard. I also have Colt’s Detective Special and Cobra, both of which are slightly larger than the J-Frames with a six-shot cylinder instead of a five-shot.

Recently, Ruger upgraded their .380 pocket pistol and I especially like the new LCPII. My most-used, everyday Perfect Packin’ Pocket Pistols are an alloy J-Frame in my pants pocket, the Ruger .380 in my vest pocket, and the little North American five-shot .22 Short as a last-ditch option carried in my chest pocket.

Campfire Smith & Wesson

Taffin favorite: S&W’s M65-5 .357 Magnum is carried in a Gallagher holster and stoked with Black Hills ammo.

Campfire Springfield Armory

John likes Springfield’s 9mm EMP4. It’s an “easy shoot, easy carry” piece.

Classrooms and Ranges

Protecting family goes deeper than just carrying concealed. In Idaho, attendance in a training class with both classroom and range time is required to obtain a Concealed Weapons Permit. Arrangements were made for all of my grandkids — who live locally — to take the class. I hired the teacher and had the classes in my home on two occasions because it was the only way I could get everybody together at once.

We then made arrangements to use one of the local indoor ranges for the hands-on firing part. I should’ve known better but I thought I could pick the guns they needed for concealed carry. I soon found out my choices were not always their choices. I gave each one of them a gun and then found myself retrieving a few of them and buying them what they really wanted!

Idaho recently added an Enhanced Weapons Permit requiring more class time and more shooting. It does provide a greater number of states recognizing the permit, and makes it possible to legally carry in some extra places. I took the class in February nearly four years ago. It required a full day of class time and firing 120 rounds.

While shooting outdoors I used my S&W 3″ Model 65-5 .357 “Ladysmith.” This stainless, fixed-sight sixgun is fitted with a pair of Herrett’s smooth Detective Stocks and a holster by Derry Gallagher. It rides high and close to the body, boned to the contours of the gun allowing it to be carried securely under most circumstances without the need for a safety strap. Drawing from the holster I was able to put 119 of the 120 shots in the 10-ring with a single round just slightly outside. When I don’t opt for a pocket pistol, chances are extremely high this combination is riding on my hip.

When I was shooting long-range silhouettes back in the 1980s, I found myself with the “problem” of shooting a different test gun each month. The same is true when it comes to concealed carry. There have been many over the past 60+ years and I have here only mentioned some of them.

Although I like having so many choices, I try to keep simple in whatever I’m carrying. Unless it’s a 1911 of some kind, I prefer a DA sixgun or semi-auto requiring nothing more complicated than pulling the trigger to put it into action.

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