Do You Need to Carry?

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If you aren’t exercising your right to carry, now is the time to start and here’s what you need to know…

by the ShootingDaily staff

It is a statistical and anecdotal fact: defensive handguns in the possession of responsible adults reduce crime and save lives. What’s more, we do not need a historical perspective to prove it. Consider these eye-opening data compiled by the Crime Prevention Research Center in a report titled Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States:

  • Between 2007 and 2014, murder rates (per 100,000 people) have fallen by 25 percent. During this same period, the percentage of concealed handgun permits rose by 178 percent.
  • Nationwide, concealed handgun permits have increased dramatically over the past eight years, from 4.6M in 2007 to over 12.8M in 2015.

The truth is, Americans from coast to coast and the various U.S. territories are engaging in the responsible practice of carry concealed for self-defense and for the protection of their family. In seeming response to this movement, many state legislatures are following suit, introducing laws to ease restrictions on state residents’ ability to carry a firearm for personal protection. Earlier this year, Idaho and West Virginia legislators voted to allow Constitutional Carry (the ability to carry a handgun open or concealed without a government-issued permit), joining Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Vermont, and Wyoming, which have already adopted Constitutional Carry laws. This is in addition to the states that currently allow their residents to carry concealed with a permit, or to open-carry without a permit. Part of this welcome groundswell is due to the landmark Supreme Court decisions of 2008 (District of Columbia vs. Heller) and 2010 (McDonald vs. Chicago) that reaffirmed adult citizens’ 2nd Amendment rights to both keep and to bear arms for self-defense.

In short, we law-abiding Americans are taking responsible, pro-active steps to protect ourselves, and are exercising our rights to do so. The question is, are you?

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GETTING STARTED

Know the Rules – Outside of the aforementioned states where Constitutional Carry is the law, regulations for carrying a concealed handgun vary by state. The first step to becoming a carry-concealed practitioner is to know the laws under which you will carry or be issued a permit. In most states, the county sheriff is the issuing authority for CCW permits, and is your best local source of information on learning what you need to know to begin the process. Other quality sources for carry-concealed issues include the National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Rifle Association, and the U.S. Concealed Carry Association.

Hands-On Training – There is an absolute truth that applies to shooting a handgun: in a crisis, you always revert to your level of training. That is what pistol training is all about. You do not want to have to think about your draw or aim, stance or trigger control, changing a magazine or remedying a malfunction when you are in a defense situation. Although a one- or two-day basic defensive pistol training program is not a requirement for most CCW permits, a solid foundation in the practical application of handgun operations is highly recommended. Proper training, followed by regular practice and skill maintenance, are hallmarks of responsible and dedicated CCW practitioners. Fortunately, you can find training opportunities in your area. Your local law enforcement agency can probably recommend one, as can your local or state CCW advocacy groups.

The Permit Process – This varies by state, but the process typically involves participating in a class where CCW applicants learn about the responsibilities of carrying and deploying a concealed handgun, how to deal with the aftermath of a deployment, and the legal ramifications of exercising your right to self-defense. Additionally, most application processes include a hands-on component to ensure applicants understand and can perform handgun operation basics. Once you receive basic certification, there will be a fee charged by the issuing authority to obtain your permit, which can be a few dollars to several hundred, depending on your state.

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CCW OPTIONS

A CCW permit does you no good if you do not actually carry your handgun. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happens to many CCW permit holders, and one of the reasons for this is that they do not purchase a carry handgun that meets these key criteria:

Fit & Function – There are numerous handguns on the market of various sizes, shapes, weights, and features. Picking one that you can shoot effectively given your body type and shooting style is challenge enough. Selecting one that you can comfortably conceal on your body, in your purse, or in a carry pouch adds another level of complexity. Yet difficult as it may be, it is important to get a handgun that provides the best fit for you. You must be able to operate all functions easily and without disturbing your proper grip. That means dropping the magazine, actuating the manual safety, releasing the slide lock, chambering a round, and, of course, operating the trigger. The best bet is to shoot any prospective carry-concealed handgun before you make the purchase. This is an investment not only in terms of dollars, but also in your well-being. Choose wisely.

Concealability – So you have found a handgun that fits like a glove and runs like a champ. Now, how are you going to carry it? You want a holster that is comfortable because an uncomfortable carry will soon lead to no carry at all. You want a holster that securely retains your handgun, yet allows you to draw it smoothly and efficiently. The holster must also conceal the handgun with a range of clothing options.

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CCW and 1911-platform pistols aren’t known for playing well together, but with the right combination of a slim 1911-style handgun like the Springfield EMP 4 and a well-designed holster such as Crossbreed’s SnapSlide, the challenge becomes no challenge at all. These side and front profile shots show the EMP 4 to be perfectly concealed beneath lightweight casual clothing. Below shows the “high-and-tight” nature of the Crossbreed SnapSlide holster.

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Performance – What we are talking about here is caliber size. The debates have raged for years as to what chamber is optimal for a carry-concealed handgun, and as with most things, it really comes down to compromise. A palm-sized .380 may provide ultimate concealment, yet often lacks the downrange performance and accuracy most CCW practitioners demand. On the flip side, a large-frame .45 ACP will deliver maximum downrange performance, yet is akin to trying to hide a washing machine underneath your shirt. The ideal CCW handgun falls somewhere in the middle, with a compact or “slimmed” frame and boasting a 9x19mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP chamber (single-stack magazine). The 9mm actually gets the biggest nod of the three since it has proven downrange performance (especially when using modern defensive rounds) and ammunition is widely available.

 

THE 1911 ALTERNATIVE

Many handgun aficionados look to the 1911-style semi-auto as the end-all, be-all when it comes to defensive pistols. Unfortunately, conventional 1911-style pistols tend to be too large and too heavy for practical carry-concealed purposes. But we’re here to tell you some good news. There is an 1911 variant on the market that delivers the “fistful of handgun” we all appreciate with the 1911 platform, but in a size that makes it feasible to carry every day. It is the new EMP 4″ Lightweight Champion 9mm by Springfield Armory.

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At first glance, the EMP 4 fits the standard 1911 profile, but you soon realize this isn’t your granddad’s 1911. The first thing you notice is the slim grip and svelte width. Credit that to intelligent engineering and a single-stack magazine capable of holding ten rounds. Next, you notice the numbers: 7.5-inch overall length, 31 ounces (with an empty magazine), and the 4-inch match-grade stainless steel barrel. That’s putting the storied 1911 squarely into the CCW zone.

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Wrapping your hand around the EMP 4, 1911 fans will instantly appreciate the easy, reduced-diameter grip that’s enhanced with Springfield’s own aggressive Posi-Lock grip texture on the front and back straps. As for the EMP 4’s operational features—again, familiar territory. What really stood out during our field test of the EMP 4 was that its size and ergonomic design fits that happy middle ground of shooter’s hand sizes. Whether you have small or large hands, you can operate the slide stop, mag release, and thumb safety with efficiency.

Speaking of safeties, the EMP 4 has three of them: the aforementioned thumb safety (ambidextrous), the grip safety, and the automatic safety stop hammer.

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The Springfield EMP 4 runs exactly as you would expect from a premium semi-automatic 1911. Add to that the excellent sight picture, courtesy of the standard fiber optic front sight and dual-dot low-profile combat rear sight, and you have a pistol that sits at the head of the class not only on the range but also in close-quarter defense environments.

And that brings us to “Ah ha!” moment in our testing of the EMP 4—carrying concealed.

To be honest, we had our doubts as to how well the EMP 4 would wear. In spite of its CCW claims, it is still a 1911.

Since most folks prefer to carry outside the waistband (OWB), we decided to give the EMP 4 every advantage in the carry test, so we selected the Crossbreed SnapSlide holster. This particular holster is known for wearing flat against the torso, and for its “high and tight” ride above your strong-side hip.

After wearing the EMP 4 and SnapSlide holster, the combination scored an A+ across the board for concealability, comfort, and draw. In fact, the EMP 4 provided a lower profile and easier carry than the compact 9mms we usually wear OWB and IWB (inside waistband).

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So, if you are looking to begin exercising your right to carry, check with your local sheriff’s department to get the process rolling. And if the 1911-style pistol is your preferred handgun, you no longer have to settle for a subcompact polymer in order to carry comfortably and discreetly. Check out Springfield Armory’s EMP 4. We think you’ll be surprised.

 

Article copyright 2016 by ShootingDaily.com; promoted by Springfield Armory

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