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Deputy's Observations: Size Does Matter

Deputy's Observations: Size Does Matter

All four of these pistols are within a ¼” of each other in width. Of the four the Smith & Wesson Chief .38 Special and the .40S&W Glock 27 are the widest: 1 3/4” at the widest point in the holster. The Walther PPK/s .380ACP is the narrowest at 1 ½"

Frank Hinkle

I know that size does matter because an attractive waitress once told me so. At the time I think that we were talking about the size of the dinner plate that my meal was being served on, but I’m not sure. I do suspect that she was not talking about a peace officer trying to conceal a pistol under their clothing.

I constantly hear how only small pistols and revolvers can be concealed, while I have been carrying a full sized 1911 .45ACP pistol for most of my 31-year law enforcement career. I think that size does matter and in the long run it is worth the effort to carry a full sized fighting pistol as you go around off-duty or in plain clothes.

The complaints that I generally hear about particular guns being “to big to conceal” break down into the four categories below. I think that it is not so much the size of the weapon but what you are using to carry and conceal it that effects concealablity. Solid colored shirts of dark colors seem to conceal better and print less than light colored or print fabrics. A good quality holster and matching belt will offset weight and length and will hold the weapon closer to the body.

I advocate carrying a full sized or “Commander” length 1911 .45 pistol, but most of us are familiar with the line of Glock pistols, so I will use their Standard, Compact and a Subcompact pistols as examples.

Length: Depending on your body type and the method of carrying the weapon, the overall length of a pistol, from muzzle to the rear of the grip frame, may be an intimidating factor in concealablity. In my experience having a longer barrel may actually aid in concealment. Sometimes a longer barrel, pressing against the hip, aids in keeping the grip tucked into your waist. Longer barreled pistols just balance better in the holster than shorter models do. If you are utilizing a long covering garment or an Inside the Waistband (IWB) holster, barrel length may not be an issue.

Glock lists their line of.40S&W pistol lengths as
Standard G-22: 7.32” Compact G-23 as 6.85” Subcompact G-27 as 6.29.”

Remember that overall length and sight radius are proportionate to each other. The sight radius is what will determine how well you are able to aim your weapon out past the “point-shoot” range.

Glock lists the respective sight radius as
Standard G-22: 6.49” Compact G-23: 6.02” Subcompact G-27: 5.67”

Height: The distance from the bottom of the grip to the highest point on the rear of the weapon. This is a major concern in concealment as width and height cause printing through the concealing garments. However, the overall shape of the grip frame may make one pistol easier or harder to conceal, regardless of the height. Sometimes the angles work, sometimes they don’t. By using a holster that cants the muzzle, worn on the dominate side or cross draw, the height of the grip is somewhat negated. We must also remember that the height of the weapon equates into how many rounds its standard magazine will hold.

Standard G-22: 5.43” Compact G-23: 5.00” Subcompact G-27: 4.17”
15-rounds 13-rounds 9-Rounds

Width: The widest point of the weapon, usually the grips, or the cylinder of a revolver. The material that the grips are made of may also effect how the concealing clothing drapes over the weapon. By laying various pistols next to each other you can see that many full sized service pistols are no wider than many of the smaller caliber pistols generally thought of as being easily concealed. My Government Model .45ACP pistol wearing Pachmyer grips is only slightly wider as the Pachmyer grips on my Walther PPK/s .380ACP. If you can conceal the Walther in a hip holster you can conceal the full sized .45ACP pistol in a similar holster. The standard loading for each pistol is 7-rounds in the magazine and one more in the chamber, but the similarities end there. The bullet weight of a .380ACP cartridges is generally 90 grains while the standard bullet weight of the .45ACP is 230 grains, two and a half times the weight of the smaller projectile. Bullet weight translates into stopping power down range at the target; our adversary.

All three Glock models are 1.18” wide.

Weight: When carried in a good quality holster and on a matching belt, this might be the least important factor. Despite the weight of the loaded firearm and accompanying equipment, when worn on a good quality and stable belt the weight is not as much of an issue as width or height in concealment. But when firing the weapon the weapon’s weight and how recoil is absorbed become a major factor in shooting accurately and quickly. When I shoot my duty G-22 I think “Grip, front sight, trigger pull.” When I shoot my G-27 Subcompact pistol I think “Hold on!” Shooting premium grade self-defense ammunition in a subcompact pistol is challenging to say the least. In between shots you may have to readjust your grip, more so than with a heavier weapon with a longer grip frame. Your grip and resulting accuracy may be further affected if you are using a subcompact pistol with a magazine that has a finger rest versus one with a flat floor plate. The little finger is that important to your grip that many manufactures offer one magazine of each design with their subcompact weapons.

Glock list the approximate loaded weight of their pistols as:
G-22: 34.38oz. G-23: 31.03oz. G-27: 26.98oz.

System of Carry: I am an avid proponent of dominant side waistband carry. More than 30-years of law enforcement experience has instilled in me that you get what you pay for. When you buy good equipment it not only lasts longer but it does the job better. When you cut corners on price, you cut corners on quality and efficiency. In other words, cheap holsters do not conceal nearly as well as good quality holster, don’t last as long and don’t secure the weapon as well. Even if you are utilizing an IWB holster you will find a big difference between a $20 No-Name holster and the quality offered by a reputable manufacturer.

Although you will carry the weapon far more than you will draw it, when you do, you need the one that you are the most comfortable with, confident in and most accurate with, because your life and the life of your family will be at stake. It should also be of a larger caliber and loaded with premium grade ammunition. If it is good enough to bet your life on out on the street, than it should be good enough to protect your family with in a parking lot..

Size does matter.

Stay safe, and stay alert.

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