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Concealing Full Size Pistols: Don’t Be Afraid To Take Them Out Of The Safe


Typically when leaving the house for the day the most obvious choice for a concealed carry gun is the smallest and lightest firearm available in your collection. For a vast majority of us, that may a slim, single stack .380, 9mm or 45 ACP. This class of firearm offers daily carry users the right amount of compromise between size, weight and magazine capacity that anyone who carries daily will appreciate.

Lately I’ve been finding myself reaching for my full size, stainless steel 1911 rather than my pocket guns. Why? I realized it wasn’t as difficult to carry my 1911 as I had originally thought. I’m a creature of habit like all of us. I like my wallet in the same pocket every day. I like my phone and keys in the same pocket as well. When I carry a pocket gun, there’s always a compromise. Do I carry my phone in a back pocket, or move my wallet? Do I switch to an inside the belt holster or just fill my pockets with all my stuff?

Rather than continue to stuff my pockets daily and continue to look like I was carrying 5 gallons of water in a 3 gallon bucket, I began looking for alternatives. I’ve found that carrying the 1911 in a CrossBreed SuperTuck holster was the perfect solution for me. I shoot my 1911 much more accurately than my SIG P238 .380 ACP. I have a full 8+1 capacity of proven 45 ACP and I’ve found that concealing the full size 1911 really isn’t that much more difficult than the tiny Sig.


Comparing a full size 1911 to a pocket .380 isn’t exactly fair. The 1911 is much heavier, longer and taller than the compact .380. The longer sight radius of the 1911 lends itself to better accuracy and the weight of the 1911 absorbs recoil very well.  But what I learned is that rather than worrying about few ounces here, or a few inches there, it really comes down to choosing the correct holster for your application and wearing it correctly. What does wearing it correctly mean?

For me, it means ignoring the trend in synthetic fiber undergarments. While carrying my 1911 I found the slick fabric doesn’t exactly lend itself to good concealed carry methods. Also, I almost always need an undershirt and a longer outer shirt to help with the heal printing of the full size 1911. For cold weather carry here in the midwest, it’s not uncommon for me to dress like this daily. In warmer weather I’m sure I’ll go back to the more pocket friendly .380, but what I’ve learned in the past few months is this; Don’t be afraid to carry your full size defensive pistol. Don’t get hung up on a few inches or a few ounces when you can comfortably carry a full size defensive pistol. The holster and your clothing are probably the most important piece of the puzzle if you’re going to carry a larger, heavier pistol and as always, practice makes perfect. Give a new holster a good week of break-in time if it’s leather. I even wear my new holsters around the house with an empty mag to get used to the feel and the weight on my hip. This makes daily carry easier and hopefully a no-brainer when you practice good carry techniques. As always, make sure you’re proficient with whatever firearm you’re going to carry. Don’t unbox that new 1911 and immediately start carrying it the same day. You’ll need to make sure the sights are aligned correctly, the firearm doesn’t malfunction, and that it’s been through a proper break in period of at least a few magazines, if not a few hundred rounds without a malfunction.

Obviously there’s nothing wrong with carrying a small, pocket sized .380 or 9mm. My every day carry firearms rotate with the weather and my own personal whims on any given day. Every expert would agree that the tiny pistol in your pocket will be more effective than the 1911 in your glove compartment. If you don’t feel comfortable carrying a full size firearm, you probably won’t carry it daily. So carry whatever feels best on you and you’re proficient shooting. But certainly don’t be afraid to try to carry a full size handgun.

Categories: General
About Aaron McVay | View all posts by Aaron McVay

Born and raised Iowan. NRA Lifetime Member and firearm enthusiast since 6th grade. Aaron’s interest in responsible carry issues has increased over the years, and is a large supporter of…

Born and raised Iowan. NRA Lifetime Member and firearm enthusiast since 6th grade. Aaron’s interest in responsible carry issues has increased over the years, and is a large supporter of the 2nd amendment. Aaron is also a big 10mm Auto enthusiast and owns a Glock 29 Gen 4. One of his lifelong goals is to begin long distance target shooting out to and including 1000 yards. Aaron has a wife of 10 years, 3 kids and is an IT Consultant who specializes in Enterprise Content Management Solutions and process automation.

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  • Shane

    I just started carrying in December but my edc is my 4in 9mm XD that has 16+1 capacity and is easy for me to conceal in Cincinnati winter weather due to coats and sweaters. I’ll probably need a different solution come spring/summer but it works for me for now.

  • John Stewart

    Shane, you are correct about warm-weather carry. I used to carry a S&W Bodyguard 380 in my front pocket however now the S&W Shield 9mm with an inside waist band holster has taken its place. There are a lot of holster options out there for the single-stack mag 9mm and larger concealment guns. Most of them are much thinner than your XD but you do give up about the round capacity. I prefer the comfort and do carry an extra mag in the pocket.

  • William Gowan

    I Carry A Full Size HK USP 40 In Winter Months In Illinois Layered Clothing, Jackets But Due To Concealability I Carry A Sub Compact XDS 45 ACP In Summer Months…But I Can Carry Either Anytime With The PROPER HOLSTER…. And I Always Carry An Extra Magazine.

  • Duck Hunter

    I carry a full size S&W M&P 45 in a supertuck. It conceals very well.

  • Rob d

    I carry my full size 1911 in a cheap nylon desantis holster and barely notice it. I have the crossbreed and rarely used it because it dug into me and was just too much material. Now that I’ve found this alternative, I can finally carry the pistol that I want to. The only drawback is that it’s harder to reholster if I need to take it out for some reason.

  • Tom C

    Why in the world would you carry an empty magazine while at home? This is the time and place that I want to be MOST prepared do deal with any one trying to harm my family or my self.