We live in the golden age of concealed carry firearms and support equipment. I have carried concealed my entire adult life and I am amazed at the changes that have occurred in the past two decades. Even the past several years have seen rapid developments in firearms technology, as well as the gear that supports concealed carry.
With the advent of small, yet capable, guns, as well as the improvement of deep concealment options such as new belly band designs, tuckable holsters, the Phlster Enigma, etc…, one must beg the question; can one gun do everything? Is there any reason to have more than a single carry gun?
First, to clarify, I am diametrically opposed to having a carry rotation of guns that involves carrying different guns that fill the same role. For example, if you carry a Glock 17 on Monday, a 1911 on Tuesday, and a Sig P226 on Wednesday, just because, you are accomplishing only a lack of familiarization with your essential emergency tool. However, if you go with a single full-size or compact autoloader most of the time, but drop down to the J-frame when necessary for deep concealment, that is entirely different. However, is even this change still necessary?
More Concealable Pistols
Let us first consider the reality that all concealed carriers choose different carry options based on dress requirements, lifestyle, and certainly convenience. With the advent of small autoloaders such as the Sig P365, the Springfield Hellcat, and the like, an individual may feel perfectly comfortable carrying such a pistol as a primary carry gun. Such micro 9mm pistols are incredibly capable for the size, offering good ammunition capacity and proving quite shootable. If such a pistol is, indeed, the primary carry gun then it is likely that only one gun can do all things for the carrier. These micro 9s are easily worn on the waistband, in some belly band options, in ankle holsters, or even in the pocket, if you have big pockets.
However, what if you are the individual who believes in carrying as much gun as possible? Perhaps you carry a Glock 17, a full-size Smith and Wesson M&P, a full-size Sig P320, or the like. There is a lot to be said for doing so. Even the compact or sub-compact versions of these full-frame guns, that can share the full-frame magazines of the larger variants, are significantly more capable than micro pistols. While good shooters can certainly use micro 9mm pistols to good effect they will always do better with a full-frame pistol. However, can you always carry such a gun?
Many argue that they carry a full-size gun all the time, no exceptions. I would suggest that the people who claim to carry a full-size pistol at all times either have no professional obligations or they are lying. I am skeptical. If you believe in carrying a full-size gun all the time, which I agree with myself, you will most likely need to have a smaller option for those times that you need to dress in less permissive ways, or for when you need to be in less-permissive environments or among such company.
New Concealment Technology
A new breed of concealment options also makes the ability to carry a more capable gun, all the time, more realistic. The Phlster Enigma exemplifies this new innovation as it allows the individual to divorce the gun and holster from the belt, yet still wear it compressed into the body for concealment. This means that, if dressed formally with tucked in shirts, or if dressed very casually with board shorts or sweatpants, you can still wear a full-size gun. Historically, when dressed formally or casually a pocket or ankle gun was in order. That appears to no longer be the case. Therefore, can one gun now do it all?
For some individuals, especially those who only carry one of the very small 9mm autos to begin with, the single gun may do everything for you. Most, however, are probably still best served with both a primary and deep concealment gun.
Staying armed often has to do with more than just the concealment. For example, when walking out the door to go to the mailbox, will you put on your belly band apparatus to do so? Likely not. You will more likely put a pocket pistol or snub revolver in your pocket. If you are always wearing at home (I do advocate carrying a gun at home) then this might not be an issue. However, most people will find a small gun that can be put in a pocket holster and dropped in a pocket useful. If you only carry a small pocket pistol or a snub revolver, again, the single gun will do everything for you. However, if you like to carry a full-size or compact auto whenever possible, the ability to carry it at all times becomes more problematic.
Another consideration is the use of a backup gun. Granted, you might never carry a second gun on your person as of now, but I encourage all concealed carriers to at least have the option in place for doing so as you don’t know what the future may hold. When it comes to carrying backup handguns on person, few people opt to carry two full-size pistols. Small revolvers and pocket autos excel as backup guns and this is another instance where one gun simply cannot do it all. Having a backup gun and a backup carry mode (pocket, ankle, etc…,) is a sound life tactic.
In closing, I submit that the advancements in concealment gear has made it easier than ever to carry larger guns most of the time, but the concealed carrier who wants to stay armed at all times possible will still need a dedicated deep-concealment gun.