Pickin' Perfect Packin' Pistols

Tougher Than Pickin’ Packs Of Pickled Peppers

Four constants: Gun, light, knife and attitude.

Elsewhere on this site you’ll find blurbs (here’s one) on the daily-carry preferences of Handgunner’s professional gunwriters — and mine too! You may find my choices a little different, maybe surprising, but I assure you those choices weren’t made lightly. I confess, for many years my daily-carry guns depended more on habituation, ego, self-image and other stupid influences than on any well thought-out criteria. Being much older, a tiny tad wiser and far more busted-up, I’ve actually tried to be smart lately — semi-smart, anyway — about my packin’ pistol picks.

Conditions have changed and so have I. I’m out of the Traveling Action Hero business. In the aftermath of my Spinal Surgery Saga, I can no longer carry enough ordnance to fight the Battle of the Bulge comfortably on my belt all day. My speed, mobility and flexibility are, to put it mildly, “challenged.” My most likely shooting scenarios have transitioned from “Looking for trouble and finding it” to “Avoiding trouble, but ready and willing to overwhelm it.”

If somebody — or a buncha somebodies — force a violent reaction, I won’t be executing any Ranger Ricky tactical snap-rolls, escape-or-evade-while-delivering-fire maneuvers or sprinting for cover. If I have to fight in the open, it’ll be like a tank with both tracks blown off: the turret still swivels, but I’ll likely live or die right where the fight starts and ends. My fighting abilities are less like a stalking tiger and more like an old snapping turtle. If limited to short, hard blows and a deadly bite, I want that bite to be decisive. Is this ringin’ any bells for some of you out there?

Choices And Criteria

Hence, I decided my primary carry piece should be a .45 ACP — but only if it met other criteria. It should be light, flat, smooth and simple; fast into play and agile for snap-shooting. It should point naturally, instinctively, and I shouldn’t even have to see the sights to consistently score deadly hits at 1 to 10 meters — and very importantly, single-handed with either hand. For targets at greater distance, sights should be very rapidly acquired and up to the challenge. Ability to shoot picture-perfect rapid doubles I judged less important than controlled, repeated singles cadenced about one per second. Ideally, it should be a point-and-squeeze weapon, safe but speedy with minimal controls. Another question was, if grappling with some goblin, how easy or difficult would it be for someone to wrest it away from my one-hand hold?

I owned three roughly suitable pistols. I also had the TP45 on loan from Kahr, to shoot head-to-head against its lower priced near-twin, the CT45. Wrote that up in the Jan/Feb issue. I was poised to return both because, well, you just can’t keep ’em all, no matter how good. But then I commenced comparative testing.

I shot ’em all, standing, sitting, kneeling and turned-turtle; from in-contact range to 25; all angles and around obstacles; pulling and presenting from under shirt, jacket and parka. I simulated drawing and firing seated in a vehicle, leaning on my cane, holding horizontal and vertical objects, pushing and striking with the off hand; whatever came to mind. Note: Many of these drills were with unloaded pistols — but still informative. Note #2: It was also a great and valid excuse for a lot of shooting!

I wasn’t surprised the TP45 did well — it had performed superbly during T&E — but I was surprised it beat the others resoundingly on “either-hand” shooting and close, fast engagements. I kept it.

Selecting a backup to carry in my OTD — Out The Door — bag, I wanted sheer firepower and high capacity; best met with a double-stack 9mm. The weapon must be drawn easily from its flap-covered holster-compartment. If my OTD isn’t hanging from a shoulder it’s usually suspended from the headrest of my passenger seat, in front if I’m rolling alone and in back if I have a companion. I may need the gun fast. Angles and reach dictate use of a relatively short, snag-free, very easily grasped and drawn weapon. Candidates underwent the same kind of drills I had run for my on-body carry piece.

My SIG P250 Compact won that competition in a walk. So, my backup with two spare mags yields 46 extra rounds of “And that goes for your whole gang too!” An added bonus was both it and the TP45 are double-action-only designs with strikingly similar trigger pulls, and their minimal controls — mag release and slide lock — are virtually identical. Under duress, matching operating systems can be a big plus.

Not Sayin’, & Just Sayin’

I could recommend both weapons to you, but I won’t. Selecting your daily carry Roscoe and backup-bag gun should reflect intensely personal preferences. I do recommend basing your choices on the same kind of demanding drills I employed — and will review from time to time. And this:

Please, never step out your door, no matter where you live — not to the backyard, the barn, the mailbox or your Maserati — without a gun, a light, a knife and an attitude. Never drive without considering dangers greater than the usual morons, drunks, dopers and texters. Returning home, remember, evil may await. The new national sport seems to be The Anger Games. You may not want to play, but you might have no choice. And I want you to WIN. Connor OUT

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