Concealed Carry: What I have learned over 16 years of carrying a handgun

In 1995 a number of concerned citizens like Susanna Hupp and others worked with the State of Texas to enact a concealed carry law.

In 1996 when the concealed carry law when into effect I applied for my license, went through the class, and received my license.  At the time I was caring a Sigma .40 cal pistol which turned out to not be a good choice. It was too big and not concealable even in a large fanny pack.  So I needed to find a smaller gun that I had confidence in to protect myself with and purchased by first GLOCK – a G27.  I have this gun in waistband, boot, and a fanny pack.  It is a good gun – one that I can depend on if my life was in jeopardy it is also small enough to conceal.

There were times when even the G27 was too big of a gun to carry. I also bought a Colt Defender .45 which is the gun that I normally carry now. But there have been times where I needed to carry and either one of these would be inappropriate so I bought a Smith & Wesson J-frame. I normally carry the J-frame in a pocket. I’ve actually had to use it to defend myself – fortunately I did have to shoot – just to brandish it to stop the aggression.

There is hardly a day in all these years that I don’t have a gun on me. There other guns that I’ve carried in holsters, fanny packs, shoulder holsters, or down a boot or ankle holster. If I am able to wear a belt I normally carry my Colt Defender in a Crossbreed Super Tuck. I’m a mechanic by trade and I have been underneath cars rolling around on the ground and the Defender has never bothered me in this holster. I wear shorts during the summers and the T-shirt conceals my Colt .45.

I find for concealed carry a 9mm or .38 is sufficient to protect oneself but I prefer either a .40 caliber or .45 caliber weapon. Carry extra ammo – extra magazine or speed loader.  My belief is if you can’t do it with one or two rounds then you shouldn’t be carring and the chances of getting in a real storm as a civilian is pretty rare.  People tell me that they carry three and four spare magazines and 100 extra rounds on them and I ask about their sanity. Look the truth of the matter is that unless you’re a high-value target nobody gives a damn about you and there is no reason to carry that amount of ammo for protection.  If you are a security guard or toting large amounts of money three or four 3 or 4 spare magazines is completely understandable.

The other thing that I find absolutely crazy is some of these people out there who will carry guns never designed to be carried concealed or a caliber that it makes no sense to carry.  I’ll include the Smith & Wesson 500 – when you carry a gun like that the chances of you hurting other people other than your attacker multiply astronomically and that’s not what concealed carry is all about.

The mentality of concealed carry is also very important. You have to be ready to pull the trigger knowing full well that the chance of you ending someone else’s life is high. Being a concealed carry permit holder  is serious business and you have to think about it and be prepared. I have had to pull my gun and it’s not like the movies.  In one situation an attacker came at me with a baseball bat but luckily I was able to scare him off.

Don’t underestimate the legal ramifications if you shoot someone – justified or not.  There WILL BE legal ramifications and attorney fees.  Possibly unwanted media attention.

Over the years there have been other incidents when I had to pull my gun.  You need to practice situational awareness and the ability to dominate a situation without the use of deadly force.

By:  Adam Dollinger

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4 Responses to Concealed Carry: What I have learned over 16 years of carrying a handgun

  1. Adam Dollinger says:

    I carry a one spare tire in my car not 4. Most feed problems, if you keep your gun clean, are caused by the Magazines. Even though I buy new mags every year or replace the springs in them, yearly (Just like replacing the Batteries in your smoke detector yearly) you can still have a problem. Here’s some data for you to chew on, remember depending on where u live and work; Urban, suburban, rural can effect the chances that you will will ever have to pull your gun period. My neighbor is a 42 year veteran of a large city Police force and the oldest LT in that force. The number of times he actually had to pull the trigger is very few even though he was also a Swat officer part of that time.
    The Armed Citizen – A Five Year Analysis
    For the period 1997 – 2001, reports from “The Armed Citizen” column of the NRA Journals were collected. There were 482 incidents available for inclusion in the analysis. All involved the use of firearms by private citizens in self defense or defense of others. No law enforcement related incidents were included. The database is self-selecting in that no non-positive outcomes were reported in the column.

    As might be expected, the majority of incidents (52%) took place in the home. Next most common locale (32%) was in a business. Incidents took place in public places in 9% of reports and 7% occurred in or around vehicles.

    The most common initial crimes were armed robbery (32%), home invasion (30%), and burglary (18%).

    Overall, shots were fired by the defender in 72% of incidents. The average and median number of shots fired was 2. When more than 2 shots were fired, it generally appeared that the defender’s initial response was to fire until empty. It appears that revolver shooters are more likely to empty their guns than autoloader shooters. At least one assailant was killed in 34% of all incidents. At least one assailant was wounded in an additional 29% of all incidents. Of the incidents where shots are fired by a defender, at least one assailant is killed in 53% of those incidents.

    Handguns were used in 78% of incidents while long guns were used in 13%; in the balance the type of firearm was not reported. The most common size of handgun was the .35 caliber family (.38, .357, 9mm) at 61%, with most .38s apparently being of the 5 shot variety. Mouseguns (.380s and below) were at 23%, and .40 caliber and up at 15%.

    The range of most incidents appears to be short but in excess of touching distance. It appears that most defenders will make the shoot decision shortly before the criminal comes within arm’s length. Defenders frequently communicate with their attackers before shooting.
    The firearm was carried on the body of the defender in only 20% of incidents. In 80% of cases, the firearm was obtained from a place of storage, frequently in another room.

    Reloading was required in only 3 incidents. One of those involved killing an escaped lion with a .32 caliber revolver, which was eventually successful after 13 shots.

    Multiple conspirators were involved in 36% of the incidents. However, there were no apparent cases of getaway drivers or lookouts acting as reinforcements for the criminal actor(s) once shooting starts. At the sound of gunfire, immediate flight was the most common response for drivers and lookouts.

    When multiple conspirators were involved, the first tier was a two man action team. If another member was available, he was usually the driver of the getaway car and remained in the car. If a fourth conspirator was involved, he was stationed immediately outside the target location as a lookout for the police or other possible intervening parties. The outside conspirators do not generally appear to be armed. It does appear that the trend over the period has increased from one weapon in the action team to two weapons.

    The largest group of violent criminal actors was 7, a group that committed serial home invasions in Rochester NY. An alert and prepared homeowner, who saw them invade an adjacent home, accessed his shotgun, and dispatched them (2 killed and 1 seriously wounded) when they broke in his door.
    Incidents rarely occurred in reaction time (i.e., ¼ second increments). Most commonly, criminals acted in a shark-like fashion, slowly circling and alerting their intended victims. The defender(s) then had time to access even weapons that were stored in other rooms and bring them to bear.
    The most common responses of criminals upon being shot were to flee immediately or expire. With few exceptions, criminals ceased their advances immediately upon being shot. Even small caliber handguns displayed a significant degree of instant lethality (30 per cent immediate one shot kills) when employed at close range. Many criminal actors vocally expressed their fear of being shot when the defender displayed a weapon. Upon the criminals’ flight, the “victims” frequently chased and captured or shot the criminals and held them for the authorities.

    1) Even small caliber weapons are adequate to solve the vast majority of incidents requiring armed self-defense.
    2) Mindset of the potential victim was far more important than the type of weapon used. All the victims were willing to fight their opponents in order to survive. Although not common, in some cases bridge weapons, such as pens, were used to gain time to access the firearm.
    3) Frequently, the defenders were aware that something was amiss before the action started and then placed themselves in position to access their weapons. Awareness of the surroundings appears to be a key element of successful defense.
    4) The defenders had some measure of familiarity with their firearms. Although perhaps not trained in the formal sense, they appear to be able to access a firearm and immediately put it into action. At least one defender learned from a previous experience and made the firearm more accessible for subsequent use.
    5) Training or practice with a firearm should include a substantial amount of accessing the firearm from off body locations, such as drawers, underneath counters, etc.
    6) This analysis does not present a view of the totality of armed self-defense in that non-positive outcomes were not available for inclusion in the database. The analysis may, however, be useful in helping to describe a methodology for successful armed self-defense. This methodology might be described as: 1. be aware, 2. be willing to fight, 3. have a weapon accessible, 4. be familiar enough with the weapon to employ it without fumbling, 5. when ready, communicate, both verbally and non-verbally, to the attacker that resistance will be given, and 6. if the attacker does not withdraw, counterattack without hesitation.

    Data Tables
    Location of Incident
    Home 52%
    Business 32%
    Public 9%
    In or around Vehicle 7%

    Shots Fired
    Type of Location No Yes
    Business 33% 72%
    Home 25% 75%
    Public 29% 71%
    In or around Vehicle 35% 65%
    Grand Total 28% 72%

    Number of Shots Fired
    Average 2.2
    Median 2
    Mode 1
    Max 20

    Gun Type
    Handgun 78%
    Long Gun 13%
    Unknown 8%

    Body Carry
    Type of Location No Yes
    Business 69% 31%
    Home 94% 6%
    Public 49% 51%
    In or around Vehicle 65% 35%
    Overall 80% 20%

    Multiple Assailants
    Type of Location NO YES
    Business 76% 24%
    Home 72% 28%
    Public 62% 38%
    Retail Business 52% 48%
    In or Around Vehicle 49% 51%
    Overall 64% 36%

    • Cary Kieffer says:

      The magazine spring thing seems a tad excessive…have you had a problem or something that has you worried about that?? I could see maybe every 5 years…maybe…but I’ve got AR mags loaded for 10-12 years and 1911 mags I’ve had loaded for 20 years that are fine. Goin a step further I’ve got German Luger and Nazi occupation Browning highpower mags that have been loaded for nearly 70 years. My Gramps kept them loaded all those years and now I have too. Their fine as well…just sayin’

  2. Mark C. says:

    Saying that if you can’t get it done in one or two rounds you should not carry is making a big assumption about any person’s ability to perform under survival stress. I do agree though that carrying more than one extra mag for a possible need for a reload is probably overdoing it for most people depending on what they are carrying.

  3. Dieterich says:

    I think I need a little clarification. You say to carry spare mags but then go on to say, “if you can’t do it with one or two rounds then you shouldn’t be carrying”.

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