For two months I've been running a little experiment with my carry guns. Well, the experiment is over and learned some things.
For years now I've had a routine. I'm sure many others that carry a gun have the same one. For most of the year I would carry a full size self-defense pistol. I had many over the years but the one I most often used was a Colt Government Model. It was easy enough to carry and I shot it well, you couldn't ask for more than that. But it is harder to carry in the hotter months, especially when wearing lighter clothes. So, in July and August I would put the GM away and use a smaller "Summer Gun." For over a decade mine was a S&W M649 but a couple of years ago I went with an even lighter J-Frame, a 342PD.
The J-Frame Smith & Wesson is a fine weapon, reliable and easy to carry. But the capacity is limited, reloads are harder than an auto, and a 2-Inch snub is the most difficult gun to shoot accurately. Despite its charm I must say that for a while now I've wanted to upgrade to something better than my short trip "Gas station" gun. The J-Frame is not the best self-defense tool in the box, certainly better than nothing, but it is a compromise.
At the beginning of this summer I also had another problem. I had a S&W SW990L and I couldn't decide if I wanted to sell or not. Its' a great gun, completely reliable and accurate, but I didn't need another range toy and I wasn't sure I wanted to carry it. That's when the experiment came about.
I let the 342PD sit it out this summer and began carrying the SW990L. It's roughly the same size as a Colt GM (although a bit thicker) but weighed less and held one more round too. Searching through my holster box I found a IWB holster for my USP that fit the big Smith reasonably well. It wasn't perfect but was good enough to carry without being dangerous. So the experiment began.
Since mid-June I've been carrying a ten shot (9+1) .45 auto rather than my usual five shot .38. Yes, it was more difficult. No, it was not as comfortable. But it wasn't so bad that I felt it couldn't be done on a regular basis. What I've found is that I can carry a much better tool for defending myself, one that doesn't make me feel like I'm compromising my safety.
I'll be looking for a 1911 type pistol with a lightweight frame to replace my J-Frame in my carry lineup. I think it will be perfect for what I need. The SW990L will be going. It's a good gun but I already have others that do the same job and without adding more expenses I don't need. I'll keep my J-Frames though, if for sentimental reasons if nothing else. They might even see the occasional duty, but I doubt they get used on a regular basis again.