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If You're Going To Get Into 1911 Concealed Carry, You Might As Well Do It Right

Most of the time, people who rubbish 1911 concealed carry don't know what they're talking about. It's actually not as hard as you'd think. Well...it is a big, heavy gun. And it doesn't hold as many bullets as other pistols. That much is true.

However, it isn't the easiest thing either. Carrying a 1911 every day requires commitment; unless you're going to dedicate yourself in certain regards...you should probably find a different gun.

It isn't that it's an "expert's gun" like so many people say, but it is the case that the 1911 is not for casuals. However, it can also pay dividends. It's the preferred platform for many of the top level of competitive shooters for a reason.

It could be that you bought a 1911 and you're wondering what you're going to need in terms of equipment and knowledge. It could be that it was the only gun available in your local gun store and you want to carry something.

It could be that you already carry one everyday and wanted to see just what those turkeys at Alien Gear Holsters think they know about 1911 concealed carry.

Let's get these bases covered. We're going to go over the basics of what a person needs to conceal and carry a 1911 pistol comfortably and effectively.

1911 Concealed Carry Requires The Right 1911 Holster

1911 holster

If you don't invest in the right gear, 1911 concealed carry is going to make you miserable.

For starters, you need a solid belt. Otherwise, your gun and holster are going to sag; what causes a lot of people discomfort is having to cinch the belt down to the point where they lose circulation in their legs. Avoid that issue by investing in a solid belt.

Then you have the holster. A quality 1911 holster is key.

To start with, a good 1911 holster has to be comfortable to wear. It's a big, heavy, metal pistol, so it had better not drive you crazy wearing it.

Make sure to buy a 1911 holster that has a full sweat guard. This part is especially important. When carrying a 1911 in Condition One - cocked and locked; hammer back and safety on - the extra material is absolutely essential.

If the hammer is exposed, it will poke you in the side, which gets annoying. Take care to check the sweat guard when the hammer is back, not when it's forward. If the sweat guard doesn't cover the grip safety, it will poke you and that's annoying.

Again, since you're carrying in Condition One - and you should, because it's the only sensible way to carry a 1911; more on that later - the holster has to protect the controls. Even though there's the redundancy of the grip safety, the thumb safety has to be totally covered to keep anything from rubbing it or allowing it to be deactivated.

Given the 1911 has a grip safety, getting a proper grip when drawing the pistol is critical. Therefore, the cut of the holster can't interfere with that...at all. You should be able to fully grasp the pistol without interference from the holster.

The holster also has to create a solid platform to draw the gun from and reholster to, as well as not collapsing on the draw so you can reholster the pistol.


If You're Going To 1911 Concealed Carry, You Need To Care For The Gun


Again, 1911 concealed carry is not for casuals. If you're that guy that refuses to maintain his guns, this isn't the gun for you.

Any pistol with a metal frame, and it doesn't matter what kind - a 1911, a Sig Sauer P220/226/229, a CZ 75...whatever - is metal-on-metal. Any mechanical system where metal rubs on metal requires lubrication or else material is being shaved away.

You wouldn't run your car without oil, so don't run your gun without it either. Cleaning isn't necessarily the most essential thing. Granted, a hand-fit pistol with tight tolerances will need more frequent cleaning for reliable operation, but lubrication is far more important.

Classically, the done thing has been to over-lubricate 1911 pistols if anything; add lube until it's seeping out of the gun and wipe away the excess.

While that may be overdoing it, lubrication is essential for reliable operation. The frame rails, barrel locking lugs, locking block and hammer block all have to have some lubricity or the gun will wear faster and won't cycle as reliably.

Again, this isn't just a 1911 issue. Any alloy- or steel-frame pistol requires regular lubrication for best results.

1911 Concealed Carry Will Probably Require Upgrading Your Magazines


Without doubt, the Achilles heel of the 1911 pistol is the abundance of crappy, lackluster, awful, terrible, lousy, worthless, useless, no-account and otherwise contemptible factory magazines. Therefore, if 1911 concealed carry is in the offing, get some better ones.

This is a known quantity by this point. Granted, why manufacturers don't just make better factory magazines, or just tack an extra $50 on the MSRP for a pair of quality ones...is a good question.

So unless your gun comes with them, it's a good idea to upgrade to some Wilson Combat magazines. Some other good brands include Chip McCormick, Tripp Research, and MecGar.

And you're going to want to buy a lot of them, because you're going to practice reloading. A lot.

Buy A Good 1911 Or Be Ready To Upgrade Yours


The great thing about the 1911 pistol is that so many different people make them. The bad thing about the 1911 pistol is that so many different people make them. Not all of them do so correctly.

The gun was designed during an era when everything was done by hand, with an artist's eye and a craftsman's hand. Making one that ran correctly required hand fitting and attention to detail from the smiths at the factory.

Today's mass production guns are made by milling the slide and frame, grabbing some parts and putting the thing together. The factory test fires it a few times, and sends it out the door.

You can't afford to spend time fine-tuning guns that you're trying to sell in volume, unless the factory has mass production down to a science. A few do...but not all of them.

What does that mean for the consumer? You'll either have to spend a bit of cash upfront to get a quality example, or buy a less expensive gun and put the time and money into tuning it up.

Granted, the bad old days of jam-o-matics are over. You don't have to spend a great deal of money to get a solid 1911 pistol. Rock Island Armory guns are generally pretty solid and are a bargain. Others like Springfield and Colt require a bit more investment, but don't really turn out turkeys.

Then you have the handmade guns like Dan Wesson, Les Baer, Wilson Combat and so on.

The point here is that it isn't impossible or even terrifically expensive to get an example that can be depended on or that's otherwise ready to go out of the box...but it's also very easy to get one that isn't.

Also, if concealed carry is the purpose you have in mind, consider a Commander, Lightweight Commander, Officer or CCO model. They're a lot easier to pack everyday than the full-size model.

You're Supposed To Carry Cocked And Locked

cocked and locked

A 1911 that's carried with the hammer down is almost always the sign of a total rookie. Sure, maybe it's some radical dude who's installed an SFS hammer system...but those guys are few and far between.

When you consider the mechanical design of the pistol, it's obvious that the gun is designed to be carried with the safety engaged. In fact, that's exactly how John Browning designed it.

Flicking off a thumb safety is an easier task under stress than cocking the hammer. Furthermore, to carry hammer-down, you have to manually lower the hammer over a live round...which is crazy, considering you could just put the safety on.

People who don't carry a 1911 or other single-action pistol this way reveal a deficiency of training and experience, or a deficiency in the gear they use to carry the gun.

You're concerned something will send the hammer forward. That can't actually happen with the thumb safety engaged; it blocks the slide. Even if deactivated, the grip safety has to be depressed and the trigger pulled to send the hammer forward.

That lack of confidence is understandable for the inexperienced, but can be gotten around with practice. With a bit of time, and of course observing safe handling procedures, you'll gain the necessary confidence.

If you're worried about your gear, you need to get better gear. With a quality 1911 holster, the thumb safety stays on, unmolested.

If one is worried about deactivating it during an emergency where the weapon has to be drawn, this is a deficiency of training. The workaround for that is practice.

Which, as it happens, leads us to…

You Need To Put In The Practice For Effective 1911 Concealed Carry


Another reason why 1911 concealed carry is definitely not for casuals is that it demands the user put in the necessary practice to attain as well as maintain the muscle memory for correct operation.

Granted, we aren't talking about much. Deactivating the thumb safety and correctly gripping the pistol to deactivate the grip safety.

Doesn't sound too complicated, does it?

Except remember that the point of a carry gun is to use it in self-defense, under stress, not just on a flat range. You have to practice until that fine motor action of pressing the thumb safety off and gripping the pistol correctly become autonomic.

It's completely possible...but it takes a lot of reps to get there, and that means putting in those reps. So that means carrying a 1911 requires a lot of practicing on your part, more so than almost any other type of handgun.

But is there a payoff? Is there something about this gun that makes it better than others?

It depends on how one views it. In many regards...no, not really. The 1911 is just another handgun design amidst a sea of them. If anything, there are better pistol designs for modern shooters and certainly for concealed carry, but it's still just one among many.

Is the AR-15 really a better rifle than the AK-47? Each has strengths the other doesn't and each has weaknesses the other doesn't. In reality, it's about what suits the shooter and how well they run it.

But there are a few things that keep people coming back to the 1911 pistol.

It has excellent ergonomics.

The trigger design is unique, and lends itself to a clean trigger press unlike any other. Many people find the 1911 more easily facilitates very accurate shooting than other guns do, which is partially why elite-level competitive shooters use them.

And after all, it's about the skill of the shooter with the gun rather than the features of it that matter. If you find you run 1911 pistols better than anything, that makes it a good gun for you, and it's what you should carry. A lot of people do, for those reasons.

About The Author

Writer sam hoober