Here in Arizona, we are fortunate enough to be one of the 36 states which allow citizens the option of concealed carry.
The Concealed Carry of Weapons (CCW) permit requires the completion of 16 hours of compulsary training (now reduced to 8 I believe) which includes
basic firearm safety, legal considerations, and weapon/ammunition options - all of which must be studied from printed booklets. The course ends with
a written exam and a qualification shoot, both which must of course be successfully completed. You are then fingerprinted and background checked for
any criminal convictions. If you pass muster in all areas, you are issued with a 4 year permit that is good for any weapon, no restrictions or serial
Originally I did the course as a safety measure. When visiting the range, it's much easier to just throw loaded mags or unused boxes of ammo in the
same range bag as the weapons - without a CCW permit this is technically an offence (ammo and guns should be physically separate from each other),
even if the weapons are out of reach in the trunk of your vehicle. With a CCW permit you can have the weapons loaded in the bag next to you in the
car if you so choose.
I rarely, if ever, carried on my person, there really is no need in southern Phoenix, especially on the edge of the desert where I'm located. The
biggest risk animals have 4 legs and not 2 (Coyotes and Javelinas) and usually don't mess with you if you don't mess with them.
The recent appearence of no fewer than 3 serial killers and a parallel rise in illegal alien related crime forced a re-visitation of that pacifist
policy and I felt it necessary to pack on a more regular basis as a precaution, especially as the killers were operating in the South of the city,
albeit that one of them was "only" killing women.
Carrying a loaded firearm is of course a significant responsibility, and I am happy to say that national statistics show that CCWers are the most
responsible, law abiding individuals in any given comunity - which is logical, since the bad guys just carry guns and forego the nuisance of obtaining
The actual act of carrying is surprisingly difficult, especially in an environment where daytime temperatures routinely reach 110 degrees in Summer,
even now at Christmas time, some people are still wearing shorts.
I took a look at my available options, and started out with a H&K USPc stainless in 9mm carried strongside in a leather Galco Summer "In The
Waistband" (IWB) holster, carry ammo in 9mm for me is the Speer Gold Dot 124gr +P. I do have some Winchester Rangers in 127gr +P+, but choose not to
carry these for legal reasons, even though they are (in my opinion) the best there is. I carried this rig exactly once, and quickly realized that IWB
carry, even with a compact gun, wasn't going to work for me, it was just too much like hard work what with wearing a heavy belt, a T-Shirt underneath
a bloused over-shirt etc etc
So I switched to ultralights, specifically a Kel-Tec P-32, then a Kel-Tec P-3AT, and occasionally a Smith & Wesson 642 Airweight - all using custom
designed pocket holsters for jeans or shorts. The P-3AT rapidly became my favorite choice - .380ACP out of a 2 and a bit inch barrel is very low end
when it comes to terminal ballistics (the science of hurting people with projectiles), but the gun weighs almost nothing even when loaded, and seven
rounds of .380ACP is certainly useful. So, I had the slide hard chromed for wear resistance (Kel-Tec do the work for $20 plus shipping) and fitted a
rubber grip sleeve to improve the ergonomics.
Carry ammo was, and still is, a more difficult choice. Conventional wisdom has it that one should always carry jacketed hollow-points (JHPs) or plain
lead hollowpoints in some revolvers, the well respected FBI study on terminal ballistics recommends that any personal defence load must penetrate
tissue simulant to a minimum depth of 12 inches. Now even if you can get .380ACP to expand at the super low velocities typical of the P-3AT, it will
rarely make 7 inches in testing, even plain Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) rounds struggle to make 12 inches. So I started out with Remington Golden Saber
JHPs in the relatively heavy 102gr loading, but later discovered some surplus Spanish police ammunition made by Santa Barbara. This ammunition has a
truncated cone profile with a non-expanding exposed lead core, and an enclosed base (the reverse of most designs), it is also the hottest factory ammo
I have ever tried in .380ACP, possibly even a little too hot as range testing left me with a slapped hand.
This tiny little rig, complete with an Uncle Mike's #1 pocket holster was my final selection, so I was all set - the only problem is - they just
caught all the serial killers
If anyone has gone through similar iterations before finally finding something that worked, I'd be interested to hear - just don't make fun of my