The Case for a Full Size Carry Gun


1911So today I wanted to talk about the benefits of carrying a full sized fighting gun. As many of you know there is, and has for as long as handguns existed, a trend towards carrying a small compact pocket model for defensive purposes. I sincerely want to change that, at least as much as I can. CCW methods are deeply personal things for many people, what I plan on illustrating works very well for me. I am not a small man, I’m 5’10” and about 220lbs on a light day so that tends to open up some concealed carry methods to me that I wouldn’t have had if it was back at my active duty military fighting weight of 170lbs but that was a long time ago.

I know that there are many of you out there will argue with me until you’re blue in the face that I’m wrong. Well I’m sorry you feel that way. I have always preferred a full sized gun. It offers so many more advantages over smaller pocket guns such as better ballistics, higher capacity, more reliability (bear with me here) all with not but a couple detractors. Size and weight tend to be the biggest issues cited when people decide against carrying a full sized gun, perhaps that it’s uncomfortable. I agree with those but a simple shift in carry method or minor modification of wardrobe can negate many of those complaints. When you’re carrying a large handgun your options for carry methods are pretty wide open. You lose pocket carry but maintain all manner of waist mounted options and then you have shoulder holsters which I’m fond of in the right circumstances. You also can consider off body carry. I could go into a lot of details about off body carry but there is only one big concern I have with that method of carry, and that’s maintaining positive control of the receptacle in which you’re carrying your handgun. There are whole host of backpacks, book bags, laptop cases, day planners ..etc that are available and designed specifically for off body carry. If that option suits you then do your research and have at it. For on body carry, the venerable and ever popular IWB hybrid holster is a very popular and comfortable option; and with many makers on the market today you’re sure to find one to fit your budget and your gun. But the big issue that you run into when you’re carrying a full sized handgun is printing (the visible outline of the grip of your pistol through your clothing). Its hard to get around printing but there are ways to help disguise it as much as you can. Wearing a heavier or thicker cover garment (whether it’s a t-shirt or button down or a polo) will help immensely, as will wearing a patterned button down shirt which is one of my most favorite methods. It doesn’t get rid of the print but it does help to break up the outline of the grip to fool the eye a little better. Generally speaking, a tuckable IWB holster will be a little harder to pull off with a full sized double stack handgun, there is just going to be some printing with this method.

cougarIf I can avoid it, I’d never want to deal with an armed confrontation with a small pocket gun. Don’t get me wrong, My LC9 has treated me well and it’s great to shoot and reliable, and I like to carry it as a backup but it’s my last ditch gun generally. It would never be my first grab when the chips fall. The capacity just isn’t there, the barrel length isn’t there, the heft and feeling of confidence isn’t there and the way I grip, my support hand thumb tends to drag on the slide if I’m not careful. I have that problem with every small gun I’ve shot, it’s the curse of having big hands. The LC9 is about as small a gun as I can shoot comfortably. A LCP/P3AT sized gun just wouldn’t work for me. So that brings me full circle back to the full sized gun. Well in full disclosure, when I say “full sized” I’m more talking about the frame size versus the barrel length. My go to gun for quite a few years now (even when I had a Glock 23 as my department issued duty gun) has been my Beretta 8040 Cougar. I have had the opportunity to use my Cougar as a duty gun and a CCW gun for a long time. It shoots beautifully but it’s not a small gun. It has many of the same controls and some interchangeable parts with Beretta’s 92 series and was a very comfortable transition gun for me from the military to the civilian world. I’ve already done a review of it so I won’t go to far into the details but it’s a boringly reliable gun and I can conceal it well and it’s above all comfortable to carry. A gun that’s not carried comfortably will get left behind when you may need it most and that is a big deal. Am I able to carry my Beretta all the time? Of course not. There are times where my attire or the situation dictates a more discrete carry or the inability to carry a firearm at all. That being said, the Beretta is never far away, or a rifle for that matter (if that’s legal in your area). The LC9 becomes my option to fight to a bigger gun if that’s all I am able  to carry.

I hope I’ve given you a few things to  think about here. There are so many benefits to the full sized fighting gun that carrying anything else just seems like an unnecessary compromise to me. I firmly believe that the gun you have is better than no gun at all but at the end of the day, a full sized gun can make a significant difference in your survival in gunfight.

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