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My Evolving Everyday Carry Handgun

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I’ve carried quite a few handguns throughout the past 40 years of my concealed carry lifestyle. Being trained in public safety, I’m not one who wishes to feel helpless. So I keep a carry gun with me always and a get-home bag ready to go in my vehicle.

My choice of concealed firearm has remained the same in some ways but differed in others. The quality of manufacturing, for one, has significantly improved since the ‘70s. There have been leaps in quality over the years. My preferred mode of carry, on the other hand, hasn’t changed.

Choosing My Everyday Carry (EDC) Handgun

In police qualifications, we used revolvers. Almost all were Smith & Wessons. It wasn’t unusual to see a group fired by a Combat Masterpiece or Combat Magnum at 50 yards measuring less than 4 inches. These were good revolvers. There were significant problems with the .38 cartridge, however. And the 9mm that followed was no better. Many well-documented incidents pointed to the failure of small-bore handguns.

After reading Jeff Cooper’s works, I decided to adopt the 1911 .45 ACP pistol. Colt was the only deal in town. I purchased a Colt Commander .45 for more than a week’s pay. The 1911 .45 completely outclassed the revolver in fast combat shooting. Speed to an accurate first shot was unrivaled, and the quick reload accentuated the 1911’s efficiency. I qualified by the skin of my teeth with an 8-inch group at 50 yards.

Adding a Bar-Sto Precision barrel and King’s Hardballer sights gave me a more capable handgun. This was the story for many years: purchasing a pistol and customizing.

Carry Evolution

When the Colt Series 80 was introduced, I sold and traded my Series 70 pistols. I don’t form emotional attachments to self-defense tools. The new pistol fed better, was more accurate, had better sights and featured a positive firing pin block.

I could afford only a few handguns. I kept an EDC, a spare and a backup .38, plus good holsters for both duty and concealed carry use. When Kimber introduced the Custom II pistol, it seemed to have everything one would need in a 1911: good sights, good trigger and speed safety.

I adopted both full-sized and Commander-sized Kimber pistols. The easy control of the .45 ACP in a steel-frame handgun was appealing and was complemented by excellent sights and a good trigger. There is nothing faster to an accurate first shot than a good 1911, in my opinion.

The Nighthawk Custom T3 is a formidable 1911 .45.

The Nighthawk Custom T3 is a formidable 1911 .45.

My carry guns were an evolution in efficiency and quality. With economic growth allowing more leeway in choosing handguns, I came to own a good number of pistols I don’t really need but enjoy firing and testing. This has led to upgrades in my carry gun. Now, a more compact pistol has been my everyday carry for some time and leaves nothing to be desired.

My Current Carry Handgun

In my holster today is the Nighthawk Custom T3. This pistol features a Commander-length slide and a 4.25-inch barrel. It has a steel frame and abbreviated grip frame (known as the “Officer’s Model”), plus a superb fit and finish. The working parts return to battery exactly the same after each shot, resulting in smooth, even wear after many thousands of rounds. This handgun is more accurate than most any Government Model I have owned. Modern recoil spring technology makes the pistol no more difficult to control than a full-sized .45. It suits my needs perfectly.

I carry in the R Grizzle City Slicker. While the City Slicker is designed as a tuckable holster, I never carry it tucked under the shirt. I use it as a standard inside-the-waistband holster. With a combination of a reinforced holstering welt and excellent adjustment, this is ideal for my needs.

Quality holsters are essential! The ankle holster is from Galco, and the Nighthawk rides in an RGrizzle.

Quality holsters are essential! The ankle holster is from Galco, and the Nighthawk rides in an R Grizzle.

When I first became a peace officer, case studies showed that one in five officers shot was shot with his or her own handgun. For this reason, I carry a backup pistol. I chose the S&W Chief’s Special .38 to start. When I carried the .38 as a backup, it rode in an ankle holster. Today I use the Galco Ankle Glove and have upgraded the firearm to an S&W 640 Pro. Like the Nighthawk over a vintage 1911, the 640 is much improved over the original Chief’s Special.

The 640 features rubber grips that insulate the hand from the frame during recoil. The action is smooth, and the hidden hammer makes the revolver snag-free. I could fire from inside a jacket pocket if need be. A great advantage is the addition of three-dot tritium sights — uncommon on a revolver. The heavy barrel dampens recoil. This revolver is chambered for the powerful .357 Magnum cartridge.

Why I Choose to Carry

The Smith and Wesson 640 features hand-filling grips. The humpback frame design aids in controlling recoil.

The Smith & Wesson 640 features hand-filling grips. The humpback frame design aids in controlling recoil.

I have a good reserve of skill and intermediate weapons so consider the handgun a last resort. Just the same, it is an important tool in personal defense. These handguns represent a logical evolution. Each is more capable than the pistol that came before it. Leather has been replaced as newer models came along and worn gear has been discarded. These are my choices. They are very personal and suit me well.

Sources:

Nighthawk: NighthawkCustom.com  
Smith & Wesson: Smith-Wesson.com
R Grizzle: RGrizzleLeather.com
Galco: GalcoGunLeather.com

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