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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.

  • Photo_00002_max50


    about 4 years ago


    Not only the color, but style of clothing matters. Loose fitting- even baggy- clothing helps tremendously.

  • American_first_responder2_max50


    over 6 years ago


    Frank Hinkle, this article is excellent, and should help many in their choice of carrying an off duty weapon. I also agree with bsibley's comment on this article...going home safe and alive is the most important. Thanks for this post.

  • 031208_00401_1__max50


    over 7 years ago


    You said it all right there. Size does matter in many different cercumstances, and bigger isn't always better.

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 7 years ago


    awesome artical man

  • Chief_instigator_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Same thing I preach - and I retired after 26+ years. I still carry; usually either a Ruger P89 or a Sig 226. Sometimes a Model 65 S&W. I won't say where on my person, but if my daytime employer catches me with one, I will be fired. This has been going on for almost eight years now. Size matters, and so does determination. And PRACTICE. You gotta find what conceals for YOU, and carry the most effective thing that will conceal.

    Indeed, stay safe out there.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago


    Good article Frank. Two additional things to think about with the off duty weapons choices. Make sure you are proficient in drawing and firing the weapon. Secondly, an identifier such as your badge should be easily visible when you have to draw the concealed weapon while off duty or in plain clothes. You don't want to get in a situation where an on duty officer has to make a split second choice between you and a bad guy as the threatening target... gun in your hand, no ID, no recognition as a leo makes you ok to shoot at in the officer's mind. Remember the goal is to always go home safe to your famiily.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago


    Sounds like a fellow Firearms Instructor and Armorer to me. Someone whos of what he speaks.

  • My_bike_pic_s


    over 7 years ago


    Another great article. Size does matter, I carry a 19-5 model S&W 2 1/2 in 357 with l58 gr. hollow points, you can't tell I even have a weapon, it's comfortable, small enough, and will knock down a charging rino, with little or no colateral damage. I feel considerably safer with it. Thanks again for another great Article.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago


    Why in the world, with fewer resources available, would anyone choose to a carry a less effective weapon off duty than on?
    Geezz, a little discomfort is better than dead!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago


    Great article. I advocate carrying a handgun and spare ammo. I own handguns in size from a Beretta 21 (.22 lr Bobcat with tipup barrel) all the way up in size to a 1911A1 Hi-cap and Ruger Blackhawk SA in .357 magnum. I have carried all of them concealed at one time or another; including the Blackhawk. I carried that one to prove a point - no one knew I was carrying it...

    Normally I carry either a subcompact ParaOrd C6.45 LDA or a ParaOrd Warthog (subcompact .45 hi-cap) and 2 spare magazines. The LDA mags hold 6 rounds and the Hawg holds 10. I don't leave the house without at least 2 reloads for whatever gun I carry. With my agency to carry something off-duty (and fall under their legal umbrella) you have to qualify with it...we shoot a 30 round course from 3-1/2 - 15 yards. My duty pistol is a Glock 17; on qual day with the Glock and the Hawg I shot a 150/150 with both guns.

    Size matters in caliber too; but so does accuracy!!!

  • _q8i0012_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Rating counter messed up....I score this a 4.5

    Excellent article. I carry my Sig 226 in 40S&W off duty, now concealed as a civilian.....I preferred to have the extra shots vs a revolver and I am totally comfortable with this weapon. More is better.

  • Picture_max50


    over 7 years ago


    I can't conceal carry on duty as a chaplan but have been strongly considering it as a "citizen". I am more familiar with service revolvers from past law enforcment expereince 30 + years ago. Great information for a prospective Glock purchaser. Appreciate your insight, Frank!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago

    "Deputy's Observations: Size Does Matter" Must have been a female deputy

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 7 years ago


    terrific info

  • Dsc03284_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Great article and very infomative

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