So you got your concealed-carry permit or you live in a free state where you don’t need one, but you’ve decided to carry a concealed firearm at home and in public. Now what? In this article I’ll touch on a few of the things that responsibility and morality now require of you, including the hard stuff and things most folks find distasteful, because you need to hear them.
There is no such thing as “trained in the use of firearms.” Those who believe they’ve been trained and are good to go are delusional. There is not trained. There is either regular training or incompetence of one degree or another. You do not want to be incompetent and you certainly don’t want to be exposed for your incompetence should some criminal decide to make that happen. I’m guessing you don’t want to die for your incompetence either. So get training on a regular basis and practice on a regular basis to maintain competence.
Note that the competence I’m referring to here has little or nothing to do with being able to load and calmly stand still and slowly fire to hit an 8” target at 7 yards. Rather, I’m talking about quickly and surely deploying from concealment and fighting with your gun (not “shooting” it) and keeping it running in a chaotic firefight. If you don’t train for this, you are incompetent and should address this failing. Don’t worry, we all start out incompetent. But we can get better.
Concealed Carry is Serious Business
Meditate on these facts: when you decide to carry a concealed firearm you are committing yourself to the possibility of getting into a deadly firefight as well as the possibility of having to take someone’s life. You will not pick the terms of the fight, which is 99.9% likely begin with you at a severe disadvantage. If you are competent in quickly deploying and running your gun and have an indomitable spirit, there is a significant chance you won’t survive. If you are incompetent or lack the proper spirit you will not survive. Your gun probably won’t matter.
Therefore, you have a moral obligation to cultivate and then continually work to maintain safety and competence and to explore and develop your will to prevail in a fight. You cannot develop these things on your own; they require professional instruction. Receiving instruction should be an ongoing endeavor in your responsible lifestyle as a concealed carrier (are you starting to get the message?).
Inexperienced gun handlers under duress are habitually unsafe because merely knowing the 4 rules of gun safety has no effect on gun handling when you’re simply reacting. One of the most valuable benefits of training is the ingraining of safe habits. Safe habits take quite a while and lots of effort to get internalized, but they must become unconscious habits and have to be reinforced continually by someone other than you. For this you cannot monitor yourself so you need someone else to offer instantaneous correction. A training class is the best place to acquire and reinforce these habits because the level of expectation is high and uncompromising, and others’ eyes are always on you. Practicing at a good gun range is another means for safety reinforcement because the RSO will have his/her eye on you and will be quick to offer correction.
A Training Regimen
A level-1 pistol course is something you should already have completed before you began to carry concealed. That training, and copious, ongoing practice, should soon be followed by a level-2 course. The Intro to Intermediate Pistol class at Eagle Gun Range is a prime example of the kind of course that is meant to prepare you for the later classes that you need most: those that teach you to run your gun and survive an attack.
Having completed these courses, and with accompanying, regular self practice at home and at the range, you’re likely ready to begin the real training and take the important practical (some call them tactical) courses. Don’t let the “tactical” label fool you; these are not courses for Special Forces operators, but rather fundamental-competency courses that expose and help you to understand and develop the basic skills required for anyone to be competent with a firearm. They’re not nice-to-have skills or special classes; they’re must-have compulsory classes necessary for anyone who carries a firearm.
Though some have the label, there is no such thing as an advanced firearms class, only more and more practical, fundamental skills and competency. The most important classes are likely those that are about fighting with your gun, not shooting your gun. Even more important are those concerned with when and when not to introduce your gun into a situation…and how to best avoid ever having to do so. As one who carries a firearm, you have an obligation to avoid danger and confrontation, and to de-escalate those that find you. It’s good to be trained to do that.
How many classes should you take?
All of them, and on a regular basis. I took six such classes in 2016 and eleven classes in 2017 and I sometimes retake classes just because the refresher and opportunities to receive professional instruction are always good.
I recommend that you take a class every 2 months at minimum, with ongoing practice every week in between. Think of your competency with your firearm the same as with a musical instrument. Would you be ready to perform a public concert after just one or two music classes? What if that concert would decide whether you live or die? Maybe take every class you can possibly take and practice as much as you possibly can. You don’t get to pick the time, place, or circumstances where you may be called upon to demonstrate your competency.
Some Advice and Caveats
If you carry concealed, make sure that all of the classes you take either require or allow running your gun from concealment. I’m not talking about the level 1 or 2 intro classes, but rather the practical classes. It makes no sense whatever to train to draw from a military-style, open-carry holster if you do not carry that way on a daily basis. If you carry openly, make sure your classes are for that style of carry. Take the class in the same clothes and with the same loadout you carry every day. Don’t ever change to something specific for the class unless that new thing will be your new every-day.
Spend your money on ammo and training, not on new guns. Find your pistol and stick with it. Don’t pursue every newfangled model to emerge, but find one that perfectly fits your hands, your preferences, and your carry style and build a system around that. This “system” should or may include a safe-training gun (blue gun), top-quality holsters, lots of extra magazines, a replacement-parts kit that you assemble yourself (learn to work on your gun), a light made for that model, etc… Don’t change your gun based on the seasons, but find the right gun and carry it in all seasons.
Carry all day, every day. No exceptions. Put your gun on when you get out of bed and take it off when you go to bed. If it’s not on you it’s not available to you, no matter what lies someone may have told you.
Carve out an ammo budget and dedicate part(s) of every week to dry-fire practice at home and live-fire practice at the range. You don’t have to fire 300 or 500 rounds in a training session. You can get excellent practice with 50 rounds once or twice a week, provided that you actually train for specific skills and don’t just “shoot” at the range.
There’s a place for standing in a lane at a static, indoor range and taking target practice. It is one component of many necessary components of ongoing practice. Remember, though, that all firearm defense is practical shooting. If you don’t train to draw from concealment, run with your pistol, take defensive positions behind cover, and defend from cover against several targets—and do so safely—then you are 100% unprepared to defend your life or anyone else’s. Find a gun range that allows you to do these things and make your training dollars count.
Work on what you’re poor at, not on what you’re good at. If you can fire 5 rounds in 3 seconds and shoot a hand-size group at 7 yards, don’t ever waste time doing that. Push your target out to 15 or 25 or 50 yards and/or change to primary-hand-only drills. If you’re solid with your primary hand, switch to support-hand-only drills. Practice shooting 4 different targets in one string, transitioning while maintaining a good sight picture and good accuracy.
Practice fast accuracy at longer ranges like 25 and 50 yards. With your pistol you should own everything 25 yards and in and be capable of incapacitating hits at ranges beyond 25 yards. There’s a place for 3 and 5 and 7-yard training, but they’re just one small component of productive, regular practice. That’s not a Shield of Invulnerability you’re carrying. It’s a tool that is meant to reach out and stop a deadly threat. Keep reaching out further in practice.
By carrying a concealed firearm you’ve made a serious, consequential choice that brings with it significant obligations and, perhaps, some lifestyle changes. Own up to these obligations and find ways to responsibly fit your choice into your life.
There is nothing more valuable to your concealed-carry lifestyle than training and practice. And there is nothing so irresponsible as neglecting the cultivation and maintenance of your competence. The consequences of your actions are now greatly magnified. Make sure you do right by yourself and by those around you.
The SilencerCo Maxim 9 is an integrally suppressed 9mm pistol that uses Glock 17 magazines. This is an idea that surely lots of folks have fiddled with for a while, but it took a suppressor manufacturer to get one properly launched. This is not a perfect pistol, but it’s a solid first step; I hope it’s the first of many steps.
Others have kind of beat to death the odd look of the pistol so I won’t. If you’re going to make an integrally suppressed pistol it’s got to have some extra structure going on. I think the Maxim 9 handles this pretty well. While there are some problems here, this is a more than worthy effort and it warrants our attention and probably our money. The pistol is configurable for the size of the suppressor and even at full size is not terribly unwieldy.
Before shooting the Maxim 9 I was sure I was not going to like it at all, but as you’ll see I found plenty to like about it. I’m glad that I got the chance to shoot and evaluate this interesting pistol.
Why Consider the SilencerCo Maxim 9?
The idea of an integrally suppressed 9mm pistol is pretty compelling and the Maxim 9 is a good first production effort. Its practicality takes some consideration, but it’s not at all difficult to imagine good uses for this pistol.
An obvious reason to consider the Maxim 9 is for target practice and general plinking. Being free from ear pro is rather appealing for pretty much anyone. While it obviously is not a concealed-carry candidate, it makes some good sense as a duty weapon. With the proper holster, the benefits of the long sight radius and suppressed firing report could be brought to a context where one seldom if ever wears hearing protection.
Perhaps the best reason to consider this pistol right now is for home defense. Suppressed guns are the best sort of home-defense guns, as they keep you and your family from having to pay a high hearing price for firing inside a home.
Baffles: Stainless steel with aluminum outer shell
Capacity: 17+1 (Glock 17 mags)
The SilencerCo website has the following stats on the hearing-safe configurations with ammo:
In short configuration:
147+ gr: 139.9 dB
In long configuration:
115gr: 137.1 dB
124gr: 138.3 dB
147gr: 136.3 dB
Shooting the SilencerCo Maxim 9
As I was getting ready to shoot the Maxim 9, the first thing I noticed was that the slide (kind of a half slide) was easy to rack. Also the slide serrations are very sharp and easy to get a grip on. Only the portion from the ejection port back moves, which likely helps explain the next thing I noticed: almost no recoil.
Shooting the Maxim 9 is like shooting a .22 pistol. The recoil impulse is veeery soft and combined with the suppressed firing report makes it hard to believe you’re shooting a 9mm pistol. I immediately got the sense that I’d like to shoot this pistol all day! …Except I could not shoot it for more than 100 rounds, as by around shot number 70 I could not properly grip the pistol. Everything forward of the trigger guard was far too hot to touch, so I was basically shooting the last 30 rounds of that first day one handed. I had both hands on it, but my thumbs were not on the frame. Apparently, turning the “frame” into a suppressor has consequences.
That trigger tho! The Maxim 9 has the worst trigger I’ve ever felt on a striker-fired semi-auto pistol. The takeup is gritty and stuttering and the reset, while quite short, is almost impossible to feel or hear. It’s a long trigger press and a very short reset, but the quality of both is pretty awful. Good thing this pistol has several redeeming qualities. It’s possible that the trigger will smooth out after a couple thousand rounds, but I hope there’s a mechanical way to address the press action and the reset.
I found the sights to be okay, but I never saw any dots on them. They’re tritium night sights, but the dots are quite small. No worries, though, as it was just like shooting blacked-out sights; which are just fine. But maybe consider replacing these guys with Truglos or Trijicons, as they use Glock format sights.
The first time I shot the Maxim 9 it was very dirty. The suppression blowback helps keep a lot of the gunpowder residue in the gun, which quickly gums up the internals and slide rails. My first time shooting the Maxim 9, the pistol experienced 4 or 5 instances of a failure to go into battery. I chalked this up to the grime. I later shot the Maxim 9 after a good cleaning and experienced no malfunctions of any kind. So it seems that this is a gun you’ll have to keep clean and clean more often than other pistols.
Comfort & Controllability
The grip of the SilencerCo Maxim 9 is well shaped, but it has odd contours. The contouring looks pretty rough, but I didn’t feel anything disagreeable. It’s a good full grip and the reach to the trigger was comfortable for my medium-sized hands. Racking the slide, while easy, involves gripping the extra deep and extra sharp serrations. They’re pretty vicious, but they work very well. I wish some other companies (hello Glock!) would pay this kind of attention to their slide serrations.
Controllability is a dream. The Maxim 9 is the softest-shooting 9mm I’ve ever had to pleasure to operate. It literally feels like you’re shooting a .22 target pistol, but the gun for all its size is not perceptibly heavy. The shooting softness is likely due to the suppressor, the fixed barrel, and the fact that only half of the slide reciprocates with each shot.
Components and Materials
The SilencerCo MAXIM 9’s frame is glass-filled polymer and the matchup with the forward baffle structure is very good; almost looks like one piece. The frame has an odd-looking texture, but it’s fairly effective for grip. The baffles have an outer shell of aluminum, but the internals are stainless steel. You can configure the baffles for a short and long configuration, simply by removing one of them. The suppression quality varies by doing so, but it’s nice to have the choice.
The 4” barrel is fixed, so it does not move with the action. That’s another bit of recoil impulse movement nicely removed from what you’re used to. The controls are almost ambi: there is a slide-lock lever on both right and left sides and the magazine release control is reversible. The trigger is not curved and has no safety rib in it, so it’s a long, flat, straight trigger that would otherwise be a nice feature if not for the terrible action.
The top of the baffles/slide is drilled for a red-dot sight. That’s an interesting and I think good stock feature choice by the manufacturer. The sights are 3-dot tritium and they’re compatible with Glock replacement sights, if you desire to replace them. The Maxim 9 uses Glock 17 magazines, so it’ll be easy and relatively inexpensive to get more.
The feature I find most odd is the fact that the bottom of the baffle structure is milled with keymod slots as the accessory affordance. One wonders why they didn’t just go with a picatinny rail, but perhaps that would have added more weight than they wanted.
The sound suppression at full size is pretty darned good and it’s configurable to allow you to choose better suppression or a smaller package. The extended sight radius naturally helps with accuracy. The Glock replacement sight and magazine compatibility are a welcome boon. The extra-mild recoil impulse is excellent and the easy-racking slide will have lots of fans, making the Maxim 9 easy for just about anyone to operate and shoot well. The fixed barrel will likely have a positive effect on accuracy and the pistol’s overall longevity.
At nearly $1,500, this is a very hard pill to swallow—especially considering that there will be a $200 tax stamp in addition to the purchase price. The Maxim 9 has about the worst trigger I’ve ever felt on a semi-auto pistol. Note that this is not a pistol you can use for lots of continuous reps in training. It gets hot fast and after 75 or so rounds is pretty much too hot to hold properly. As with all suppressed guns, be sure to keep your mouth closed, as there is gas face and you don’t want to be eating that acrid stuff. Finally, keymod slots?
So for rating the SilencerCo Maxim 9…
The Maxim 9 is super easy to operate and the long sight radius and soft recoil help make it a highly shootable gun. It’s pretty much like shooting a .22 pistol. Awful trigger, though.
The grip is well shaped if not perfectly contoured, and the pistol feels good in my hand. Despite the big, long structure out front, the pistol is still pretty wieldy.
I found it very easy to be accurate with this pistol. Surely the fixed barrel helps in that regard.
The long sight radius helps and the mild recoil makes getting sights back on target a breeze.
The SilencerCo Maxim 9 is an interesting pistol-and-suppressor combo that warrants some attention. As the first of its kind (that I know of), it’s a worthy effort and the result, even with its faults, is not bad. This is a good plinker and an excellent home-defense gun where, combined with the right ammo, will save the hearing of you and your family should you ever have to use it indoors.
I want to see SilencerCo continue to innovate and try some different configurations, especially to try and mitigate the heat buildup in key grip areas. Oh, and fix that trigger. In the end, you should give this one a try. Rent it and put a few rounds downrange. I’ll bet you’ll be impressed. Maybe start saving your dollars now, though.
So you’ve got a handgun. Maybe you took an introductory safety course or a Level 1 handgun course. Perhaps you went so far as to get your license to carry. What’s next? Answer: more training and lots and lots of practice. But how to practice? What do you work on? How do you know? And How do you know if you’re equipped for the next level of training?
A few weeks ago I took the new Introduction to Intermediate Pistol class at Eagle Gun Range. The course has a valuable premise: it’s an introduction to running and manipulating your pistol properly, safely, and effectively—and—shooting faster and more competently. It’s not touted as a super-tactical gunfighting class and it is not that kind of class. Rather, it is supposed to be an instructional bridge that teaches relative beginners how to train toward that next level of gun-manipulation and operation competence.
Here I’ll present my impressions and evaluation of the class and point to what kind of shooter I believe this class is best suited.
Who is This Class Made For?
I believe this class is good for all kinds of people. It will be valuable for relatively new shooters as well as those who are experience, but have only ever practiced at a strict indoor range or engaged only in target practice. It is good for those who want to improve their self-defense competencies and those who are considering getting into competitive shooting. This class is in many ways a bridge from static target practice to high-speed run-and-gun shooting, as this class teaches the skills required in order to get there. That said, it is still a beginner-friendly class provided one has solid safety fundamentals.
Instruction for this class starts in the classroom. There, the focus begins with safety fundamentals and then those of grip, body attitude, and engagement technique. For many students, the demonstrations and explanations of safe and competent gun handling basics will hold value and provide fodder for practice.
The instructors’ detailed examination of proper grip is a vital component of the instruction. I find that many shooters at any gun range I visit lack proper understanding of grip. Their competence is greatly harmed by their poor technique. Even experienced shooters will do well to pay close attention here.
With that foundation, the classroom instruction moves into explanations and demonstrations of various gun handling operations. For example: proper techniques for reloading your pistol by exchanging magazines and an examination of various malfunctions and demonstrations for how to clear them. There are also examinations and explanations of what happens when you’re under stress and recommendations for how to maintain proper fundamentals and effective gun handling in those circumstances. Lastly, there is demonstration and explanation of the 4-step draw from a holster.
When the class moves out onto the shooting bay, as you might expect, there is the opportunity to put into practice all of the fundamentals and techniques discussed in the classroom portion. There is also, however, the introduction of some new things and the course of fire is designed to progress from easy to difficult with each technique practiced. The result is an opportunity to experience some of the under-stress shooting and gun handling presented as theory in the classroom portion.
My Thoughts on the Course
I was largely impressed by both the course content and the instruction. While every other class I’ve seen dwells either on basic fundamentals or practical techniques, this class bridges the gap. While proper grip and body attitude fundamentals are still fresh in mind, students in this class get to dive into practical techniques, like accurate rapid fire and mid-shooting-string reloads. There is great value in this approach.
I particularly like the way the shooting portion presents a course of fire that progresses from easy to difficult, allowing students to A) learn to progress in an effective and regimented fashion, and B) stretch their abilities and find failure points in a safe environment. What’s more, the instructional method in this class gives the student an effective blueprint for further self practice.
I left the class feeling like this was a course largely lacking in the industry; one that helps firearm owners and everyday carriers learn the most important practical techniques vital to responsible manipulation and operation of their tools, while at the same time allowing them to explore failure points rather than simply meet or fail to meet a class standard. This is a class that also allows students to come away equipped (after self practice) to try more advanced classes or perhaps dip their toe into the competitive world.
So I’m a big fan of this Introduction to Intermediate Pistol class and I’m very glad to see Eagle Gun Range offering it. I sincerely hope every one of their customers takes it!
One common approach to everyday carry of a handgun involves carrying a different model or even different platform in different carry positions or using different carry methods, all depending on the circumstances, weather, and clothing. There is some concealment logic to this approach, but I’m going to argue against that as a long-term strategy. Instead I advocate carrying a single larger gun model, no matter the context or your clothing. There’s a learning curve and experience factors involved, but I believe that anything else introduces unacceptable compromises of concealment and defensive capability.
First, the problem. A common, contextual approach to everyday carry typically involves something like this:
a larger gun and a backup magazine in winter, carried in one’s default carry position, when heavier clothes make concealment easier
a smaller gun and no backup magazine in summer, when lighter clothing make concealment more difficult, possibly carried in a different position than in cooler months
a smaller, single-stack gun and no backup magazine for formal dress, when a tucked-in shirt and thinner fabrics make concealment and carrying extra gear more difficult, possibly carried in a different position than with informal attire
a larger gun and one or two backup mags for potentially more dangerous contexts (like going into the city or to a movie theater with the family)
Surely not all concealed carriers do all of these things, but my reading and conversations indicate that almost all concealed carriers make some or all of these contextual changes (and I was one of them). For many people, however, these changes are unnecessary. Contrary to conventional wisdom, I believe they work against better concealment rather than helping it. Moreover, these supposedly advisable contextual changes are in many ways detrimental to competent self defense.
I advocate for a larger size carry gun (the largest you can carry), carried one way, in one position only, in all contexts and weather, and with all kinds of clothing. Having done this myself, I can tell you that it is economically beneficial and enhances concealment, confidence, and competence. It makes my everyday concealed carry lifestyle simple and reassuring. In peaceful times, this approach offers fewer opportunities for me to exhibit physical behaviors (telltales for concealing something) that pique the interest of those looking at me. Should violence threaten, it offers surety and the opportunity for an unambiguous and unfettered automatic response.
Aside: Note that in the hero photo for this article, I’m carrying my Glock 19 (a 15+1-capacity, mid-sized pistol) right in front in appendix position. No one in public would know.
Why a larger carry gun?
Concealed carry is not about what is likely to happen. As I’ve observed before, one carries a concealed weapon for what is highly unlikely to ever happen. When something terrible or threatening does happen, we have no say in its context or severity. It’s easier to be competent with a larger gun than with a smaller gun, especially as the number of threats and the engagement distance varies.
The rise of Islamic terrorism means that we are living in a war that could erupt at any time in any public place. Concealed carry used to occur almost exclusively in the context of providing a means of defending against, most likely, one or two threats at very close range. Modern concealed carry is wartime concealed carry. It is potentially about defending yourself and possibly your family against five or six terrorists armed with automatic rifles and suicide-bomb vests, at ranges far greater than 5 yards. In such a horrible scenario you may not be able to escape and instead have to fight your way to safety. This is not to say that one must approach concealed carry to account for such a scenario, but rather that the potential exists and one may want to responsibly prepare toward the needs of a difficult and unthinkable context.
Why one carry position/method only?
If you carry your primary concealed handgun in different locations and with different carry methods depending on context or clothing, that means you have to train to be subconsciously competent bringing your gun into the fight from each of those positions and methods, with all of those different kinds of clothing—AND—defending your gun in all of those positions (retention against an attempt to take it from you). It means you have to have to accumulate thousands upon thousands of practice reps from each of those positions, with all of those different kinds of clothing; dry reps and live-fire reps.
As one who trains almost every day, I can tell you that I barely have time to keep up with requisite training and practice from just one carry position and method (with all kinds of clothing). If I had to multiply my training by two or three different positions & methods, there’s almost no way I could develop sure competence and confidence. But even if I could, there would be one issue remaining: my unthinking, automatic response in a panicked moment of crisis. I simply wouldn’t have a sure response to get to my gun.
When I began competing in pistol competition, I trained to get my draw from holster smooth, fast, and sure as I began to engage targets. What I found, though, was that my training to draw from my OWB holster on my hip conflicted with my training to draw from my IWB concealed holster in front of my body for everyday carry. By training, I was effectively muddying the waters and ensuring I would be confused, wrong, or tentative when it came to drawing the right way from the right location depending on the circumstance. My training two different ways made sure I had no proper, automatic response. I faltered in both situations on a regular basis.
Because of this and because my life was more important than my match results, I resolved to compete only where I was allowed to run from concealment at all times. That way all of my training was concentrated on the one way I would get to my gun should a deadly threat arise. I put it to you that if you practice getting to your primary gun at different carry locations, you’re training your mechanics, but destroying any chance of an automatic response in a moment of crisis.
Practice makes permanent. For your emergency draw from concealment, when you’ve no time to think, you’re going to have one and only one intuitive response. If you train to draw from two or three carry positions, which one is going to be the one you go to in an unthinking, panicked manner? Will it be the one where your pistol is right now? No, there’s no way to know that. It’s going to be the one you practice the most. Therefore, there should be one and only one carry method and position for your primary defensive weapon.
Many of us carry more than one defensive weapon, even more than one handgun at a time. A backup gun means carrying in a different location than your primary, but the defensive context is different for a BUG and is not contextual to or compromised by what I’m advocating here. With a primary gun of a single model, a BUG should be of either the same model or at least the same platform as your primary.
Why only one model, or at least one platform?
For the same reasons mentioned earlier; training allows us to develop competence with automatic, subconscious technique. We can develop one automatic response, but not two or more. Different platforms (e.g. 1911 and Glock) demand different initializing actions as we bring the firearm into the fight and as we reholster. As responsible gunmen, it is required that we accomplish these tasks automatically, correctly, and safely. We can think our way though variations, but only if we remember to do so (which, as history shows, doesn’t happen in a stressful situation).
Therefore, the vast majority of our training should be with a single platform and, ideally, a single model of handgun. Only in this way will one be able to develop safe, subconscious, automatic competence.
Toward Better Concealment
Concealment is as much about skill as it is about anything else, including clothing and gun size, but it helps when you can concentrate on a single firearm model, a single carry method, and single carry position. By skill I mean competence with how to stand, how to walk, how to run, how to work, how to engage in all manner of physical activity without betraying your concealment and without looking odd doing it.
With experience one can learn to determine the optimal carry position for all circumstances, the optimal gun angle for that location, and the optimal ride height for the gun, all to maximize concealment and comfort with any kind of clothing. Skill and experience aside, equipment can contribute substantially to proper concealment. Here are a few advisable components:
The Right Holster:
Concealment for any firearm will be impractical or even impossible without a holster of proper quality and geometry. The right holster should be 100% Kydex and not leather or some combination of leather or rubber and Kydex (“hybrid” holster). The holster should be one that has a proven track record of retention, longevity, proper belt grip, location stability (stays where it’s put), and it should provide proper angle on all 3 axis—inherently or with built-in adjustment.
Very few holsters meet these important requirements. In my experience, for IWB, only the Incog Eclipse and Incog Shadow Eclipse holsters and the Raven Concealment Eidolon holsters are made to conceal properly, retain well, and stay in place. Moreover, they’re adjustable. Note that only the Incog holsters are comfortable to wear and easy to don and remove. It is also easy to train with (for repeated draws and reholsters). The Eidolon conceals very well, but it’s rather less comfortable and difficult to put on and take off. It is also not so great for repeated draw-reholster reps in training. In time you will learn from experience exactly what suits your individual preferences and needs, and you may discover a suitable holster I’ve missed here, but for now you might simply start with one of these systems as a first step.
One must have a reasonably flat belly to find the greatest advantage to appendix-position carry. This position allows for a larger gun because the front of your body is squishier than the side or back of your body. The position allows for a natural, fast, and easy deployment of your gun and is far easier than any other position for defending your gun from someone trying to get it. Note that if you’re a man you will have to learn how to arrange your anatomy to maintain comfort when carrying in this position (I see many who neglect this aspect and needlessly reject appendix carry).
Caveat:I recommend appendix carry only for experienced, safe gun handlers who train every week from concealment. If you don’t get a hundred or so live-fire reps from concealment every week, choose a different carry position. It could save your life.
A Rigid Gun Belt:
A belt made specifically for everyday carry allows for better concealment and easier belt-carry of a heavier gun and items like backup magazines, trauma gear, or a phone (or all of these).
Backup Magazine Pouch(es):
Habitually carrying backup magazines is a baseline responsible approach to EDC. Two magazines is no more difficult to conceal than one, so carry two as often as you can (I do this every day). Get good, concealable pouch models, like those from Gunfighters, Inc. and Bravo Concealment. Since these are OWB items, they’re not appropriate for when you’ve tucked in your shirt. In such cases, pocket carry of a backup is a good option.
Advisable Clothing Conventions:
Learning to carry concealed well means learning to adapt your wardrobe to your responsible purpose and lifestyle. Concealed carry is easier when you wear darker and/or patterned shirts that are un-tucked, and pants with more/better pockets. Practice concealing your pistol with a tucked-in, more formal shirt. Yes, practice matters and the confidence you’ll gain will help, too.
You may have to adopt some changes in your clothing routine. You may have to start wearing an undershirt every day. You may have to stop wearing white shirts. You may have to switch your brand of jeans or other pants. You may even have to change the size of t-shirt you normally wear. These are small things in the face of a choice between a responsible or irresponsible lifestyle.
Make This Your Everyday Approach
One carry gun in one position for all contexts means 1) less money spent on other guns, 2) less money spent on ammo of various calibers, 3) no need to feel less competent with a particular gun at longer ranges, 4) focused and practiced competence for concealing your firearm (individual skill), and 5) Surety for reacting successfully and safely when you need to deploy your gun for defense.
If you live in one manner most days then abruptly change your clothes and/or physical mannerisms, people in your life tend to notice. You don’t want people to notice conspicuous differences so don’t portray conspicuous differences. It is advisable that if you’re going to live responsibly armed, adapt your daily conventions to accommodate your approach, holistically.
Make these aforementioned components your conventional, daily norm and you’ll find it easy to live more responsibly while having the mental surety and physical reliability of having but one habitual response for deploying your weapon should deadly circumstances arise. Moreover, you’ll find that you’re able to settle on a single, larger, more accurate firearm with better capacity for all carry contexts.
Ruger has recently been on fire, coming out with interesting and even compelling new firearms in quick succession. At a time when so many manufacturers are missing the boat, it’s good to see an American gun manufacturer doing some good things.
One of the new releases from Ruger is a compact 9mm pistol, the Security-9. It’s a double-stack, mid-sized pistol that very closely follows the dimensions of the Glock 19, but in a hammer-fired configuration that doesn’t show the hammer (it’s internal). The exterior and interior of the Security-9 make it seem very much like a larger version of the LCP II. But since it so closely mimics the Glock 19, it would seem to be a direct challenger…for nearly half the price!
Why Consider the Ruger Security-9?
Price and size vs. capacity would seem to be the strongest reasons to consider the Security-9. Its height, width, and length are almost identical to the G19 and it has the same 15+1 capacity. However, instead of a $500-$600 price tag, the Ruger comes in at $289-$380 (I’ve seen $289 already).
Its size and capacity make it a good choice for concealed carry, but it has other features that may appeal to some people. Being hammer fired, the slide is a bit easier to rack than that of a striker-fired gun. So people who have trouble with stiff recoil springs will better enjoy the Security-9. Also, the grip has a smaller circumference than that of many pistols, so those with smaller hands may like this pistol for that feature.
Ruger Security-9 Specs:
Barrel: 4” blued, alloy steel
Sights: Drift-adjustable U-notch
Safety: Left-side thumb lever
Weight: 23.7 oz. w/empty magazine
Slide: Blued, Through-Hardened alloy steel
Frame: Glass-filled nylon
Capacity: 15+1 or 10+1 (2 magazines)
First Impressions from Shooting the Security-9
I found nothing remarkably good or bad about shooting the Security-9. It feels and shoots pretty much like any other polymer gun. The rear sight is a U-notch, just like that on a stock Glock pistol. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but I did find it a bit difficult to pick up the front sight in the U-notch—specifically because my near vision is not the greatest—like most men my age I use reading glasses. 3-dot sights are no problem for me, but the Security-9 sights were not as clear for me and I had to work harder than normal to get proper sight alignment. Therefore, those who need reading glasses would do well to replace the dovetailed rear sight.
The sight discomfort aside, I found the Security-9 to be an accurate pistol. I did some bench-rest shots and my hits were right on at 15 yards. Unlike a Glock 19, I felt no discomfort under the trigger guard. I did notice a bit more felt recoil with this pistol than with my Glock, I guess owing to the lighter recoil spring weight, but this was negligible.
Comfort, Controllability, & Capacity
The capacity is what one would expect from a pistol of this size, but which few deliver: 15 rounds in the magazine. Most guns with 15-round capacity have a taller grip than a G19, but this Ruger manages to match that height.
The Security-9 felt good in my medium-sized hands and allows for easy reach to the trigger. The controls seem well placed and I got no raw spots on my hands from abrasion or controls rubbing me while firing. It’s a comfortable gun.
My only gripe about shooting this pistol was the lack of any structure or texture on the forward frame for my support-hand thumb (this is a common complaint of mine) so I was unable to enlist the help of my thumb to mitigate muzzle flip. It’s likely that a bit of stippling there would help (if it’s possible to stipple a glass-filled-nylon frame). Muzzle flip wasn’t bad, after all the pistol has quite the low bore axis, but I’d prefer a landing for my thumb.
Components and Features
The slide is nicely contoured and has curved serrations front and rear. I found them to be easily grippable for slide racking. The hammer is concealed inside the slide so this looks and seems to work like a striker-fired pistol. The glass-filled nylon frame grip has texture identical to that on the LCP II, so it’s grippy, but mild. I still say it’ll require stippling for daily carry.
The trigger is almost exactly like that of the LCP II. It is very smooth and almost without a wall. It does not bind up before the break, but has more of a hammer-fired characteristic (since it is a hammer-fired gun). There is absolutely no overtravel, due to the built-in stop on the bottom of the trigger guard. The reset is a bit long for my taste. I short stroked the reset a time or two when shooting. That said, the trigger is really quite nice and I would not balk at this trigger on any of my guns.
The sights are drift adjustable and are, I believe, metal of some sort, though I cannot find information on just what material they’re made from. There is a thumb safety lever on the left side of the frame. It is small and unobtrusive, but I found it very difficult to operate. I could not use my strong-hand thumb to engage the safety, but managed to thumb it “off”. I had to use my support hand to engage the safety. Really stiff.
Some components that immediately got my attention were the aluminum (!) slide rails and the thin, contoured barrel. The slide rails are the full length of the internal components, but they’re made of aluminum. I don’t know how common aluminum slide rails are among firearms, but I cannot imagine this is a good choice, as the steel of the slide will surely wear down the rails in time. The barrel is quite thin as compared to other 9mm pistol barrels, and it has that LCP contour toward the mouth of the barrel, rendering it paper thin at that point. Again, I’d prefer a thicker construction and have to believe this is a potential point of failure with much use.
Comparing the Security 9 with the Glock 19
Since the Security-9 is almost identical in dimension and weight to the Glock 19, one assumes it is meant to be a commercial challenger. So here is a side-by-side comparison of specs:
4″ cold hammer forged
Drift-adjustable w/U-marked rear
Polymer w/U-marked rear
Black Melonite +nDLC
This is a 15+1 pistol that is light and almost exactly the size of a G19 for about 60% of the price! This makes it an inexpensive way for responsible folks to carry an adequately sized gun. It is comfortable, easy to rack the slide, and is good for folks with smaller hands. The trigger is quite nice and it’s an accurate pistol for defensive ranges. The sights are drift adjustable.
The slide rails are made of aluminum. The barrel is of less than optimal construction and thickness. The sights will likely need to be replaced.
So for rating the Ruger Security-9 SECURITY-9…
It’s no Sphinx, but the grip is comfortable and most of the controls are well placed, but for the thumb safety.
Definitely an easy-to-shoot pistol, but the frame construction doesn’t allow you to use your support hand to mitigate muzzle flip.
I found it accurate out to 15 yards (likely more, but I didn’t test at longer ranges).
The Security-9 is slightly thinner than a Glock 19, making it eminently concealable for many folks.
For the price, the Ruger Security-9 appears to be a very good value.
This is an interesting pistol. It would seem to embody some important trade-offs. It’s a pistol almost identical in dimension and size to a Glock 19, but the construction and components are not on par with Glock quality. However, you get an otherwise nice pistol for around 60% of the cost of the Glock! It’s a hammer-fired gun, but you don’t see the hammer. You get a nice trigger, but the components may not last for as many rounds as would a more expensive gun.
My conclusion here is that if you’re looking for a mid-capacity, concealable, well-functioning, easy-to-shoot pistol but have a tight budget, this would be a good one to pick up. For the price, the Ruger Security-9 would seem to offer an excellent value.
Like most folks, I’m right handed. Like many serious shooters, I don’t like the idea of referring to my left hand as my weak hand because I don’t want to get comfortable with the idea or even the label of weakness. So for shooting, and like a lot of folks, I refer to my left hand as my support hand. It is a fact that I’m more competent with my right hand for most things, but responsibility requires that I work to develop and maintain left-handed skills; in shooting and in other things.
Support-hand shooting is something that not many gun owners practice. From what I’ve seen, even those who are serious about training devote precious little time and effort to developing support-hand skills. This is especially true with regard to manipulation skills, like malfunction clearing and in-fight reloads.
That said, support-hand shooting competence is something every responsible citizen should continually work to develop. Among the reasons for this is the fact that if you are unfortunate enough to find yourself in a gunfight in defense of your life or family or home, it is not unlikely that you yourself will be wounded by gunfire. If one of those wounds is to your primary hand or arm (which is highly likely since it will probably be in front of your body), without support-hand competence you are no longer capable of defending life or home. As a result you will be defeated. In a gunfight, this means you and perhaps others will die.
Therefore, support-hand training is not something that should be relegated to the military or LEOs or competitive shooters. It’s fundamental and should be a part of each week’s training, in both live-fire and dry-fire practice. If one is not capable of support-hand manipulations and marksmanship, one is 50% incapable.
While support-hand live-fire and dry-fire drills are important, there is yet more one can do to improve support-hand competence. If you get into the habit of using your support hand in mundane tasks in your daily life, your body will grow new neural pathways and establish more confidence and a more holistic physical competence.
A Holistic Approach
What follows here are anecdotes from my own life and approach, but I share them as an illustration of ideas and methods you might adopt in your approach to become more competent in your left-handed activities, shooting or others.
I’ll admit right now that I’m a bit of an odd character because since childhood I have been uncomfortable with the idea of “handedness”—right or left—and so I have struggled against it in various ways. I can remember in high school I once turned in a 3-page essay I wrote with my left hand and in mirror-image cursive, which required my teacher hold it up to a mirror to read and grade (I got an A). While that was mostly a prank, it was also a test for me to see if I could actually do it and write legibly. Though I don’t practice it, to this day I can write near perfect cursive in mirror image at speed with my left hand. I’m strange that way.
I later adopted other practices that exercised my left hand and left-side competence. In the late 1980s I took up martial arts practice, which has a built-in doctrine of all techniques being practiced lefty and righty. I’ve since spent almost 30 years in several-days-a-week left-hand defensive training. In order to gain more competence with my left-handed defensive techniques early on, I changed conventions in my life outside of martial arts training. For instance, I took up eating exclusively with my left hand. I had to learn to not decorate my face with my food or perform clumsily on the plate with a fork or spoon. I also began brushing my teeth left handed. After decades, these are practices that I maintain today.
It is no fluke then that when I took up shooting I was eager to explore left-handed pistol technique and switch-handed rifle manipulations. The latter is especially useful for left-side barricade/cover shooting, as it allows you to conceal as much of your body as possible when defending from a left-side wall opening or corner. There are many drills one can do to practice support-hand competence, but I’ll show a few fundamental ones.
Here (below) is an example of a left-hand pistol drill, where my primary hand is out of the fight before I go to my pistol (the reload is just an opportunity to practice this component in a left-hand drill). Therefore I have to draw and reholster with my left hand only:
Here (below) is an example of a drill that simulates a primary-arm injury mid fight, where I have to switch to my support hand to finish and prevail:
And for rifle…
Here (below) is an example of right and left-handed rifle manipulations around a barricade:
These are just some practical drills, but there are many more drills one can do to practice support-hand competence. A good place to start is to do with your support hand anything/everything you do with both or just right hand during a training session. Just add left-hand sequences as a matter of course.
The biggest obstacle to support-hand training, and the reason almost no one does it, is because we typically suck at it, and it is hard and galling to spend time doing what you’re terrible at. This is especially true where there are other people at the range who will see you sucking at stuff. In this respect, we allow our egos to perhaps one day get us killed.
That said, this ego obstacle must be overcome if one is to become a competent shooter and gun handler. The alternative is that one lives as a secret incompetent; never publicly shamed until that fateful day when one gets killed by a punk because of an inability to draw a concealed pistol or clear a malfunction with the untrained hand.
Bite the bullet and resolve to be clumsy and inaccurate in front of other people. It doesn’t matter and most folks are ignoring you at the range anyway. An easy way to approach your training is to run every drill or shoot every string three ways: both hands, right hand, and left hand. In time that incompetence will turn into semi-competence and then actual competence. But that will never happen if you never work on what you’re now terrible at doing.