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What I Carry and Why: Ruger LC9s

This post was published on The Truth About Guns

The Ruger LC9s is my Goldilocks gun. It isn’t the sexiest gun (too hot!), it isn’t the most “operator” (too cold!), but it’s just right for me. I’m 5’7” and reasonably slim. I started with a Kel-Tec P3AT (seen peeking down from the top of the photo) that I still pocket carry and take on runs. I’ve read some scathing opinions on the gun, but mine has given me nothing but reliable feeds and fires. I then procured the .357 magnum Smith & Wesson 640-1 (no lawyer lock) in the pic. I still carry that gun from time to time, but I wanted something thinner, lighter, and in 9mm Luger. Lao Tzu famously said, “The journey to the perfect carry gun begins with a single click.” Or something like that. So I took his advice and went to that fortress of truths we call the internet . . .

I like to think of myself as data-driven, so I chose the gun that met all my criteria: smallest footprint, handles +P ammo, good reliability. That gun was the SIG SAUER P290. It’s a good gun, but there is such a thing as too small – rather than a two-fingered grip, I was lucky to get one-and-a-half on that gun, and I have small girly hands. Plus, it just didn’t carry right for me.

That’s when I decided to “man up” and get a GLOCK 26. Again, the data and thousands of satisfied users favored the Baby GLOCK, and my wife’s preference for a GLOCK 19 sealed the deal. But again, it didn’t feel right. Whereas the P290 felt too small, the GLOCK just felt too…intrusive. I now understood what people meant when they compared GLOCKs to bricks and two-by-fours. (Plus that damnable Pearce grip extension pinched me every effing time I shot it!) So I found myself carrying the P3AT more and more.

Then I walked into my local gun store and saw the LC9s. Ruger had just announced its release a week earlier, so I was skeptical of buying a 1.0 model. But when I broke the gun down and looked at the internals, I knew this was my new EDC gun. Ruger had fixed everything that kept me from buying an LC9 – they had removed the pop-up loaded chamber indicator, added a robust recoil spring to handle +P loads, and installed a smooth, crisp trigger that spanked the GLOCK’s six ways to Sunday.

I reluctantly left the gun behind, combed the interwebz for some initial reviews (all glowing), then returned that afternoon and plunked down my Visa. I took it and the Glock 26 to the range with three friends. They all agreed the Ruger shot better than the GLOCK and exhibited better inherent accuracy. I sold the G26 and didn’t look back.

How does the LC9s shoot and carry? Truth be told, I shoot the Ruger about as well as I shot the GLOCK 26. Both are very light and let you know it when striker meets primer. But the LC9s is easy to control and keep on target, and I feel 100% confident with it. As for carrying, the LC9s is taller than the G26 and SIG P290 and only slightly slimmer in the slide. And yet it carries very well on my body and disappears even under slim-fit shirts, possibly due to the sloped rear profile (unlike the squarer-than-Huey Lewis GLOCK).

I alternate between a NorCal Kydex Humboldt holster and a Mitch Rosen Clipper, depending on my mood. I can even carry it in the pocket easier than the SIG. Maybe the extra length and width distribute the 17 ounce (unloaded) weight better. Who knows? What I do know is the numbers don’t tell the whole story. I also know I’m at the end of my quest for the perfect carry gun, which makes me a little sad. Then again, there is the LC9s Pro….

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Motivation for today

OODA

No Gun-Free Zones? Have fun in your Life-Free Zone.

No Guns sign

Two days ago, a malicious human being walked into a church in Charleston, South Carolina, and murdered nine people. The confessed (white) killer said he committed the heinous act of gunning down black churchgoers to start a race war against African Americans. President Obama once again called for gun control. Thoughtless folks shifted the blame to police officers, FoxNews, and even the victims themselves.

But that’s not what I’m writing about.

Inevitably, in the presence and absence of terrible crimes like this, some gun owners declare (in as self-satisfied a tone as they can manage in HTML) “THIS is why I never set foot in a GFZ!” (That’s “Gun-Free Zone” for the uninitiated, and Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, like all churches in South Carolina, is a GFZ.) They don’t attend movies (Aurora!), shop in malls (Nairobi!), or eat in restaurants (Killeen! San Ysidro!). They also apparently avoid colleges (Virginia Tech!) and public schools (Sandy Hook! Columbine!). The faithless among us have even used this event to justify why they don’t go to church (Charleston!). They apparently also never use the post office or appear in court, since almost all federal facilities are GFZs.

For a freedom-loving crowd, this kind of life doesn’t sound very free.

Now, don’t everyone jump on me for failing to distinguish between self-imposed and government-imposed restrictions. I support everyone’s right to conduct one’s life as one pleases. I also understand some people just don’t like people, or at least too many people in one place. But if you really avoid places you need or want to go just because they are GFZs, maybe you need a reality check.

Just as millions of flyers land safely at crowded airports every day, millions of people go to theme parks, restaurants, shopping centers, schools, and even churches without being shot at. Every day. Many Reason subscribers scoff at the fearful of flying because they listen to their irrational phobia instead of the data. And yet these same people wouldn’t dream of going unarmed, even though the likelihood of surviving an hour in a GFZ is enormously high. The reason behind both fears (yes, I said fears) is the same. Aviophobics are fine with cars because there they feel in control, whereas in a plane, they’re at the mercy of pilots, birds, and weather. Likewise, when you step into a GFZ, you are at the mercy of criminals and security guards (if there are any). You are not in control.

I get it. I don’t like to leave my gun behind, and I like as much control over my safety as I can get. But even when I have my gun on me, “control” is an overblown illusion. I want every advantage I can get, but I also want to participate fully in life. When I volunteer at my children’s schools, I leave my gun in the car. I don’t like it, but I do it because it’s the law and I want to be involved in their education.  I took my family to DisneyWorld this year, and I was happy to do it, even though it’s a GFZ. Why? Because I wanted to. Again, I’d rather have had my gun on me, but I also wanted to have a fun (“magical,” I believe is the word they use) family vacation, so for one lousy occasion, I left my gun at the hotel and risked an attack by ISIS unarmed. And if I found myself in South Carolina on a Sunday morning, I would find a church and worship my Lord and Savior – gun-free.

Lovers of liberty hate legislated GFZs while also recognizing the right of people and businesses like Whole Foods and Costco to prohibit guns on their property (and also the right of gun owners to boycott them). But there are times when you want to cross the picket line, and it’s okay. In Virginia, I cannot enjoy a beer or glass of wine while carrying concealed. Some gun owners would refuse that Côtes du Rhône. Not me. I appreciate the choice I’m given and I appreciate your choice to teetotal and carry. Me, I refuse to live in a fun-free zone. So praise the Lord and pass the hefeweizen.

And this is why we can’t have nice things.

A Berkeley-educated professor at a Canadian university walks into a bar — er, publishes an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times. Her article is reprinted on gun blogs nationwide. What is the reaction? No prizes for guessing correctly.

But wait! There’s more. Jennifer Carlson, PhD, published this response to our reaction, and it is worth reading. So read with an open mind. I think she makes some points worth considering.

Jennifer Carlson, PhD

I grew up in a very conservative, Midwestern family, and I work in a pretty liberal profession. Add to that — I research an extremely controversial topic: gun politics and wrote a book about it called Citizen-Protectors: The Everyday Politics of Guns in an Age of Decline. Precisely because people disagree so vehemently about guns in this country, I see the best thing I can do as a sociologist is to bridge that gap and help people try to see things from other people’s perspectives – and because I chose to study gun carriers rather than gun rights activists, that often means getting the anti-gun left to better understand pro-gun America.

So, despite this being one of the most divisive issues in American politics, I have strained over and over to avoid playing into the stereotypes about gun carriers – both who they are and why they carry. It…

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We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, Part 2

Garland TX

Back in February, I published a missive called We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. In it, I rambled on about individualism and personal exceptionalism. In the mind of the progressive, we are all equal, so only a collective action can repel evil. In the mind of the responsible gun owner, it is up to him or her; it is up to the person present at the atrocity. To be that person is a heavy responsibility, so we train, mentally prepare, and pray.

Yesterday, Tim at Gun Nuts touched on this point in analyzing the Garland, Texas, shootout, where a single off-duty traffic cop killed two rifle-wielding terrorists with his service pistol. (Another peace officer was with him, but he was unarmed.) Tim made five observations. Here is number 4:

4. You don’t get to pick when you need to use your gun. The bad guys decide when you need to use your gun

Granted the nature of this event made the possibility of a violent attack a bit more visible, but I’d wager that the officer working security that morning probably didn’t expect that with all the SWAT studs in attendance that he would be the guy dropping the hammer on a couple of terrorists if any showed up. Life dropped a big ol’ bucket of jihad right in his lap and to his credit he responded immediately and effectively. Again, sir, bravo. If we had scorecards, even the French judges would be holding up 10.0.

I’m sure this hero, who is remaining anonymous, did feel safer with all the heavily armed tactical Tommies around. But in the end, he was the one who had to do the shooting. By the time the M4-wielding cavalry roared to the scene, the two jihadists were dead.

Garland TX operators

Tim further expounded on this point in Observation #5, writing:

Extraordinary violence almost always happens to ordinary people… If stuff goes down in front of you, you are on your own for what may well be the rest of your life.

Action can’t wait. Your life, or the lives of others, can’t wait for the Community to step up and solve your problems. There’s a place for Community. Acts of terror call for swift and terrible resistance — from individuals. Carry and be ready.

What works: Pocket Carry in the workplace

Not that anyone cares, but I am pocket carrying again. A Kel-Tec P3AT was my first CCW. The clerk at the gun store recommended a DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster to go with it, and for the longest time, it was my only carry gun. It’s small enough to go everywhere. I carry it IWB, OWB (under a shirt), and when I run, I can carry it in a PistolWear PT-2. I bought and sold numerous other CCWs, but the P3AT has always been in my rotation.

That rotation ended (for the time being) when I purchased my Ruger LC9s. That gun strikes the perfect balance between concealability and power, at least for me. I plunked down good money on a Mitch Rosen and a very well-made kydex holster from NorCal and called it a day. For several months now, the LC9s has been the only gun I carried.

That changed when I read a lengthy blog entry about a man who was “outed” in the workplace. He bent over to help lift some boxes and his shirttail made like Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch. Apparently, the co-worker he helped didn’t care, but then she told a friend, who told a friend, and so on. Eventually, it got back to the HR director, and the man received a talking-to. He didn’t get fired, but he did agree to leave his iron in the car forthwith.

Like this fellow, my workplace has an official “no weapons” policy. It’s an empty policy, because my company runs a warehouse where everyone carries a knife or blade to open boxes or cut shrink wrap. But as a small business, I know my employers are paranoid about liability, so “no weapons” it is. I know at least one other person who carries on company property, and I suspect one or more of the owners may, as well. Still, I don’t care to get a talking-to, so after some consideration, I decided to rotate in the P3AT and go kangaroo.

Pocket carry has its down sides. It’s harder to draw from a seated position. The gun I carry must necessarily be small. (I can carry my LC9s in the pocket, but it’s a bit bulkier. I use either a kydex trigger cover or an AHolster Pocket Holster, which adds less mass than a Nemesis.) Most annoyingly, I must dedicate a whole pocket to a gun, which means I have to pare down my EDC. But the two pluses to pocket carry make it worthwhile. For one, it’s more comfortable than belt carry, and as I get older and creakier, that matters. The main up side is concealability. Unless I empty my pockets on the board room table, there is zero chance of being “outed”. I can recall numerous times a sweater or shirt tail has ridden up and revealed the grip of my LC9s*. Fortunately, no one noticed or no one cared. I did find myself rejecting certain items of clothing as not long enough to provide OPSEC, while rejecting other garments as too long and shambly-looking. When one pocket carries, one has the widest latitude of clothing choices. I guess that makes a third plus.

I have always pocket carried at home. It’s safer for playing with kids, and it also obviates that awkward (and humorous) moment when the wife snuggles up to me and whacks her hip into a hunk of metal, then rolls her eyes in the unspoken lament of wives everywhere (“Do you have to carry that thing in the house?“). So now when I get home from work, I just transfer my pocket gun from work pants to home pants — no more clearing my “day” gun and changing up at the safe. It’s a small thing, but I look for benefits where I can.

So a few minuses, but quite a few pluses. Conclusion: pocket carry works in my workplace.

*Oddly enough, the only time I was really outed was with the P3AT. I was at a church meeting and heard the vicar shout “Are you packing?!” Sure enough, my sweater had ridden up and revealed the small grip of my Kel-Tec. I affirmed I was and that was the end of it — it’s perfectly legal to carry in church in my state. But I took that holster out of rotation — it rode high, which allowed the outing to occur.

I have found that ride height and grip length are the two things that contribute most to “outing”. I don’t think I was ever outed with my Glock 26 or SIG P290, both with shorter grips than the LC9. But they had other qualities that didn’t work for me.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for

“Everyone’s special, Dash.”

“Which is another way of saying no one is.”

The Incredibles

Yesterday, I attended two “awards” ceremonies at my children’s schools. No one should be surprised that every student received “awards” and recognition, regardless of their performance. Afterward, my older son let loose with harsh words against his classmates who received only the “Achievement Award.” He saw it for what it was – a token for those who did not excel and really deserved no recognition. I told him to be nice, but I didn’t tell him he was wrong. He wasn’t.

Witnessing these two “everyone’s a winner” travesties made me realize I had strong thoughts on exceptionalism and individualism, and that these thoughts were closely tied to why we as a nation celebrate the right of the people (not the state) to keep and bear arms. To be clear, there are different ways to view “exceptionalism.” When some people speak of “American Exceptionalism,” they speak of the U.S.A. as a special place, unique in history and striving for moral purpose. This is a concept that hearkens back to our founding, when Reverend John Winthrop referred to the Massachusetts Bay Colony as a “city on a hill,” a phrase he borrowed from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Kennedy and Reagan both evoked this image of America as a “city on a hill,” a beacon of freedom and hope to the rest of the world.  But when others think of “American exceptionalism,” they think of grotesque nationalism – of an America so consumed with pride it thinks itself above the rules. Such a country is arrogant and needs to be reined in by humility and, if necessary, calamity. It is this mindset that gives rise to “awards” for everyone, for surely those who score the highest, put forth the most determination and cross the finish line first are just waiting to boast about it, humiliating those who come after them. The way to stop this arrogance is to lift up the also-rans to the same level. There is no exceptionalism. We are all exceptional. We – the community.

By itself, this thinking seems benign. Watching my special child get cut from the soccer team, struggling with science, or confessing to the principal he stole a grown-up’s car keys (true story about my seven-year-old) wrenches my heart. I don’t want them to feel bad. But I also know the fruit of these setbacks – harder training, more studying, and tangible punishment now to avoid leg irons and orange jumpsuits later. I have the future in mind for my children, so I expect them to be exceptional; I expect them to stand tall.

In fact, refusing to celebrate truly exceptional achievements creates the bad kind of exceptionalism. This thinking makes one believes he is above training, above studying, above punishment – he is Rodion Raskolnikov, entitled to privilege without effort. This thinking has one another effect. In celebrating “community,” we can diminish the individual. And when we diminish the individual, who lifts up his brother or sister? Who feeds the starving and steps in to fight evil? Why, the Community – the State. After all, as President Obama claimed during his campaign, “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” And by “we,” he meant the Collective. He meant the Community.

Who is this Community? Where was the Community when neighbors and friends were rounded up and sent to the camps in 1930s Germany? They were right there, watching, denouncing and even pulling the trigger. Where was the Community when six or more students gang-raped a 15-year-old girl at her homecoming dance in Richmond, California? They were right there – at least twenty of her classmates – watching and taking no action. Why did they do nothing to stop the brutal attack on their friend? Were they afraid? Were they unable? What prevented them from even calling the police (the State) until hours after the attack? I can only guess, but psychologists would call this the Diffusion of Responsibility: the more people present at a crisis, the less likely an individual is to take action.

Unless that person thinks he or she is the only one who can help. Unless that person regards himself as the exception.

That person is you.

To the “community-minded,” to the Statist, this thinking is dangerous. It elevates a person in his mind above his neighbor. To be sure, many a criminal regards himself as somehow “exceptional” – above the rules because he has a gun. This is the ugly variety of exceptionalism. But since all of us have the capability of deadly force, I believe the gun serves a reminder that when a 15-year-old girl is being raped, I am the solution. I am the one she is waiting for. Not a Community (a word invoked by many in Richmond, California, trying to make sense of this horrible attack). Not the State, who is famously “minutes away.” Me.

If this sounds big-headed, if this sounds like I regard myself as special, it’s because I do. Not because I carry a gun. But because I am there, in that place and that time. I am uniquely positioned and ready to help that family broken down on the side of the road – because I carry jumper cables and a charger in my trunk. I am there to help a beggar with money and a listening ear – because I’ve thought and prayed about what being a compassionate servant means. I am ready to do my best for the crash victim in the intersection – because I trained in first aid. And if, like Thomas Glenn Terry, Jeanne Assam or Nick Meli, I find myself standing between evil and the innocent, I pray I am prepared enough to intervene – because I have striven to be in shape, tried to learn how to fight – because I carry a gun.

Anti-gun “intellectuals” like to ridicule us, claiming we hold to the “Myth of the Hero Gunslinger.” They deride the prepared not only because they despise guns, but also because they despise exceptionalism in all its forms. These are the people who created the “everyone wins” mentality, and when some evil person shatters that mirage, the last thing they want is for that deranged exceptionalist to be subdued by an armed citizen, another exception. They think, perhaps, that we are waiting to boast and claim superiority over them – after all, the only exceptionalists they see are the insufferable kind. And I’m certain there are plenty in our number who won’t disappoint. But I suspect a lot of us think of ourselves as Cincinnatus’s citizen-soldiers, ready to serve in the interest of our Community – the opposite of what Obama and Progressives advocate. In other words, we are the militia necessary to the security of a free state. We are prepared to be the last hope – not just in a gunfight, but in all struggles against evil and hopelessness.

My kids will work hard to make the team, ace the test and stay out of jail. I will strive to pay my bills, help my neighbors, and teach my children to do the same – to be exceptional regardless of what team they’re on or how successful they become. Because I opened with my children in school, please allow me one last anecdote in the same vein. My proudest moment as a father was not when my oldest son ran the fastest cross country time or when my youngest son shot a bullseye at his first Scout campout. It when my older son told me his classmates were picking on a new student. “But I stood up for her,” he proclaimed without pride, just reporting the fact. “Good,” I said, thrilled that years of catechizing had taken hold. “Maybe you can be her friend.” “No way,” he shot back. “She’s really stuck up.” There was no personal gain for him here – just a solid sense of right and wrong. And the knowledge that at that time, in that place, he was the one his classmate was waiting for.