How I Quit Caring About Printing and Learned to Love My Full Sized Gun

When I was first issued my concealed carry permit I went with what I thought was the wise route in weapon selection. I had read from many others that most new concealed carriers carried a gun much too large.

So I went with small, and affordable and ended up with a Bersa 380. It was a great little gun for the price, and it was easy to carry. From there I eventually moved to a Glock 26 and then to a Walther PPS. They were all compact guns that were small, lightweight, and easy to carry. They were also limited in capacity, had a short sight radius, and often grips too small to fully fill the hand.

Full Size vs Compact

Over time I began trending a bit larger with my concealed carry handgun, going to a SIG P250 compact (Roughly Glock 19 sized) whenever possible. From there I finally settled on the CZ P09. The CZ P09 is a full sized 9mm handgun that holds 19 in the magazine and comes with an optional plus 2 extension for 21 total rounds.

The P09 has a 4.54-inch barrel, has an overall length of 8.1 inches and is 1.46 inches wide. It’s by no means a small gun, but I feel incredibly comfortable carrying it. Guns are supposed to be comforting, not comfortable right? Well, luckily they can be both.

Why a Full Sized Gun?

First and foremost a larger gun is easier to shoot than a smaller gun. The larger grips are more comfortable, the longer sight radius makes the gun easier to shoot accurately, and I have significantly more rounds on tap. The differences and ergonomic advantages were reason enough to go full sized for me.

Sight Radius between carry guns
With my Walther PPS, I can hit a 21 inch (Tall) popper only about 50% of the time. With my CZ P09, I can hit that same popper more than 90% of the time. I can even consistently hit the target shooting somewhat rapidly. With the Walther PPS its fire, realign sights, get back on target and finally fire again. With the P09 it’s fire, follow through, and fire again.

Regarding rapid fire, the CZ P09 is much easier to squeeze off round rapidly and accurately. This includes double taps, failure to stop drills, and just dropping rounds. The larger grip, heavier weight, and longer barrel reduces recoil and makes rapid shots just a bit easier.

In terms of ammo capacity, I use 7 round mags with the PPS, and I’d have to carry three of them to make one P09 magazine. Is there a need for that ammunition in a civilian self-defense scenario? Probably not. Maybe it’s just the former machine gunner in me, but I’ve never thought having too much ammunition was a bad thing. I certainly don’t want to die for lack of ammo.

Bigger guns mean more ammo

The longer barrel also gives me a hair more velocity with similar loads. The faster the bullet the better penetration I’ll get through barriers and thick clothing.

Many are right to point out the likelihood of needing that much ammunition is superbly small. That’s true, but the likelihood of me ever needing my gun as a law abiding citizen is also quite small, but I don’t leave home without it. I won’t be the one guy who needed it and didn’t have it.

A full sized gun narrows the threat gap when faced with an opponent armed with a long gun. That’s another long shot, but as we’ve seen it’s possible. The same goes for multiple opponents. Unlikely scenarios but I’m already planning for the unlikely by carrying a gun, and every single listed scenario has happened in the past and can happen again.

How to Carry a Full Sized Handgun

Part of the biggest reason I began carrying a large gun is I learned how to carry a large gun. I learned that choice of belt and holster made a massive difference in my ability to carry a full sized gun. I learned to spend a little money to get a high quality holster.

Changing up the holster and belt can make carrying a bigger gun easy.

I also purchased several gun belts that were rigid and strong enough to bear the weight of the CZ P09. This keeps the belt from sagging or rotating in any direction. This extra support ensures the gun remains concealed and doesn’t sag below the cover garment. This also makes carrying the gun a lot more comfortable when it comes to day to day carry.

The combination of a high-quality holster and belt makes carrying the gun comfortable. Even if it’s large and in charge carrying it can be comfortable. It certainly took some time and money to experiment with what worked but wearing the gun day after day changed the way I carried.

Use better equipment for comfortable carry.

My current combination is the HTC Vantage and the HTC gun belt. The Vantage is an excellent holster and allows me to carry my CZ P09 and a Streamlight TLR 1 concealed and away from prying eyes.

But What About Printing?

What about it? I find the only people that actually notice a gun is printing is the person carrying the gun. People are too wrapped up in what they are doing to stop and look at my waist to determine if I’m carrying a gun or not. It simply doesn’t happen and I typically conceal my gun under nothing more than a T-shirt.

No need for bulky clothing to conceal a full size handgun

Let’s say someone observant sees that I’m printing?

So what?

If I’m not breaking the law and even if they notice what does that change? On the off chance they notice it’s pretty difficult to tell If I’m actually packing or I have, for instance, an insulin pump. Printing isn’t something that keeps me up at night.

Admittedly I’m a big dude so I can carry a larger gun a bit easier than most. However, even a small person could carry a decently sized firearm with a bit of dedication and practice. A Glock 19 gives you 15 rounds of 9mm and is still easy to carry, the same goes for the SIG P229. Combine those compact guns with a good IWB holster and gun belt and you’d be surprised at just how easy it is to carry a decent sized fighting handgun.
Still easy to draw quickly and safely.

The Little Fellas

I still have my Walther PPS and still carry it on occasion. In some situations, it is impossible to carry a full sized gun. When I go for a run I take the PPS, when I’m having to dress up I take the PPS. There will always be reasons to have a little gun, but when I can go big, I go big.

Carrying it isn’t always comfortable (like in movie theater seats) but it’s always comforting.

Article originally appeared on GatDaily, courtesy of Travis Pike.

Do you carry a full size handgun, or do your prefer a compact? Let us know your carry philosophy in the comments below:

48 Comments On This Article

  1. I always carry the largest pistol I can comfortably conceal. I have a number of different size pistols and pick my ‘pistol DeJour’ according to my attire for the day. I am 5’7″ and 170 lbs with a 35 inch waist. Printing is OK here in Texas so I carry more ‘covered’ than concealed but I try not to be too obvious. I have generally what I call my ‘summer’ handguns and my ‘winter’ handguns. When wearing a sportcoat or jacket I prefer a vertical shoulder holster with a full size handgun. I do not carry IWB anymore, just OWB as that is a much more comfortable method of carry to me.
    When dressing in the summer for casual wear I wear jeans and an untucked shirt, for winter a tucked in shirt with a vest or jacket or sportcoat covering the weapon.
    My pistols range in size from a SIG P938 to full size 1911s and I attempt to rotate so that all get carried on a fairly regular basis, always keeping in mind whether I have striker fired, ready to shoot or a 1911 type for which I have to wipe off the safety.
    I am always armed whether at home or outdoors.

    • Hal, We obviously have similar views about which handguns to carry. I have a Kimber Ultra Carry II .45ACP. It is heavy BUT I get to wear the gun comfortably and in plain view.

      Let me explain. Sneaky Pete make a holster that looks just like a phone – tool pouch. They sell for I believe, $69.99. It has a front flap that has magnets to hold it down. These holsters come with either belt loops or clips.

      My other favorite gun is the S&W shield in .40 caliber. It is a bit snappy but it is very accurate. The .40 round has more takedown power than a 9mm although with the 9mm you get an extra round.

      Sneaky Pete makes a holster for it as well. I think I might be sounding a bit too much like a Sneaky pete salesman. I assure you that I am only a buyer and user of their products. I love the idea of concealed carry in full view.

      Drawing the weapon from ones side is almost too easy. So easy that I am sure that the Peoples Republik of California will eventually outlaw them.

  2. Any given day of the week I’m carrying a full size double stack FN 45 something really nice about having that many rounds of ammo and I do love the way that gun feels and how ridiculous the accurate it is with me behind the trigger. I run a combination of crossbreed gun belt and a crossbreed supertuck Deluxe in the waistband holster and it works very well

  3. Carrying a FNS 9C, it’s not a small .380, but also not a Govt size 1911 either.
    I used to carry a 9mm Beretta Nano, but shot horribly with too much felt recoil leading to lack of control even with a grip extension. It’s comfortable to carry except in a vehicle or other tight seats.

  4. Which is going to work just fine….. until some Everytown activist notices you and calls in an anonymous “man with a gun” tip. In blue jurisdictions (and that includes Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas), where the authorities aren’t gun friendly and don’t care what the law says, you’ll be kissing concrete (if you’re lucky).

  5. I normally carry a .45 ACP 1911 w/ a 4 1/2″ barrel, or a 3″ Ruger .357 when jackets or coats are worn. Sometimes in the summer, I’ll carry a 9mm S&W Shield. If someone were to ask what the bulge was, I would simply answer “a medical device, why do you ask?” Or, “Nothing, I’m just glad to see you.” depending how I was feeling at the time. It’s incredibly rude, or as Dr Abby once replied when asked a similarly rude question “If you’ll forgive me for not answering, I’ll forgive you for asking the question.”

    BTW, I don’t carry anything smaller then a 9mm, and I’m even skeptical of that.

  6. Outside Communist Cook County i carry FNS9 W 18 on-board and 2 extra 17 round mags. In Communist Cook County, i carry FNX .45 Tactical with 11 on-board and 2 extra 10 round mags.
    Summertime is IWB holsters by Foxx amd winter is in a Galco Jackass shoulder rig.

  7. I do like the feel of some full size firearms for concealed carry.
    I live in Arizona where there are very few carry restrictions. But I have occassion to travel to Ca. where there are numerous restrictions on what furearms can be be carried as well as magazine capacity with there ten round limit. So when ever, and not to often, I cross the border I carry a compact with seven rounds plus spare magazines. ( I can legaly carry in Ca. with my retired LEO I.D.)

  8. I’m in Michigan. I carry an M9 open during the warmer months. This state allows one to carry in any mode they wish, if they have a CPL.

    If people don’t like it, that’s their problem.

  9. I have to agree with most of what is said. Having gone thru a Ruger 22 and a Walther 380 for CC. But now I own an XDMod2 and the world has changed! I have fairly large hands so a single stack just never felt right…and if it doesnt feel right it wont shoot right. The double stack Mod2 feels like it belongs as part of my hand and with the standard mag gives me either 13 or 14 rounds without a reload.

    Everyone likes to give suggestion is try all makes and models including single and double stacks to see what truely fits and then you will enjoy your shooting more. And of course fill a drawer with holsters…….no one holster fits all occasions. I mostly pocket carry with a pocket holster.

    Also the short compact Mod2 sights and shoots as well as my full size XDM.

    • I too love my XDMod2 but have been considering an XDS for concealed carry. The Mod2 is a little bulky and I want an IWB holster that is comfortable for most of the day carry. I tried my son-in-law’s XDS with an IWB and I can’t believe how comfortable it is. I would love to carry my Mod2 if I can find something as comfortable.

  10. I agree with everything you say except for the comment of small guns don’t fit in your hand and are not as accurate. When I was a road cop I carried a Glock 22 and had a Glock 27 as a backup. I could easily out shoot the 22 with the 27. It really depends on the size of your hands and the amount of practice you do. Now I conceal carry a Glock 43 and for me it is great. I do wish i had more rounds but the gun disappears on your person, its very comfortable and it is very accurate.

  11. I’ve carried a Commander size 1911 for decades, and used to encourage all my students to carry the largest pistol they could. 1). It’s amazing how few people notice ANYTHING about other people, and how we’re scrutinized so much less than we believe we are, and 2). Nowadays, with clip on cell phone cases, etc., it’s commonplace to see bulges and “printing” on many more people than ever before.

  12. I agree! I’m a big guy, I can carry bigger sidearms than most folks. My typical carry choice is a GP 100 3″ or a Commander size 1911, both of which I carry in a small of the back position, it is the most comfortable for me and I can draw quick after a lot of practice. I’ve never been a fan of small handguns, I was always taught to carry something that will win.

    • I carry a sig 1911 with a 3.6 bbl or a little kel tec p 11 o if nothing else will do a kel tec 380 depends on how I have to dress

  13. Being a giant 5’9, I’m not gonna fool anyone on a 98degree day ,in a tshirt, carrying outside the waistband. I have been carrying in different positions, with a plethora of firearms in my 40yrs of carrying. I started with ppks and sig232s in a crosscarry position. I thought about it ,protecting the firearm in a close encounter.. not that good . Anyway , Ii found carrying a flock 36 outside the waistband perfect. Yes, there is a distinct outline there but keeping my right arm hanging naturally over it does the job.

  14. I only have one pistol. It’s a full size s+w 9mm. Placement of the holster, and a good belt/ holster combo, make it possible to carry a large pistol easy. ( Being 6’1″ 215lbs also helps).
    I too, need to purchase a midsize pistol ( Work frowns on carrying but doesn’t deny it) for working hours.

  15. It’s a full sized pistol for me as well. I currently carry a Glock 31 with an Alphawolf 9mm conversion barrel. I keep a Streamlight TLR-1HL on my gun, and use a Bravo Concealment RTT light bearing holster with Haley Strategic IWB clips. I’m a big guy, so it goes easily inside the waistband with little or no discomfort (especially after I’ve gotten used to it’s presence). For times when I need a smaller weapon, I use a Glock 19 in a G-Code (Haley Strategic) Incog Shadow Eclipse. I’ll be upgrading that carry option as soon as G-Code starts producing holsters for the Inforce APLc.

  16. A full size 1911 in a blackhawk check six holster and two ten round mags on other hip ! cant really see it under a large t shirt !!

    • Considering going from a P-64 (Makarov) to a 1911, which is what I’d prefer to carry, plus an extra magazine as 1911 don’t hold many rounds. I guess I’ll just “bite the bullet” and go large.

  17. I carry the PPS OWB now. But I really enjoy shooting my PPQ at the range and this article has encouraged me to find a carry solution for it, Thank you!

  18. I often carry either a Glock 19 or 4″ Ruger GP100 in OWB pancake holsters with no problems. I live in Florida and wear light shirts and shorts, I’ve never had anyone set to notice

  19. I am from Chicago area, and have 3 carry pistols. Winter is a FNS-9, summer is Ruger LC9S or FNS-9C. I find I can carry the Ruger IWB with shorts and a plain military style belt. The winter guns, are less and issue. It gets cold here, and you can conceal just about any hand gun under the hefty jackets a northern winter requires.

  20. With only 2 seasons in Wisconsin (winter and the three days you could turn on your A/C), I’ve carried everything from a Raging Judge in 454 Casull (shoulder rig) to a LCR in 38+P (IWB). On “hot” days this summer, I’m favoring a 4.2″ SP-101 327 magnum in a nifty little Safariland IWB with a J-hook belt clip. With relaxed fit trousers I’ll pack a full size 1911 in an Urban Carry inside-the-pant. Regular jeans with a Crossbreed IWB. For strictly comfort, it’s a Remington R-51 in Aliengear. Love my Beretta 92’s, though, so come winter it’s a Bianchi pancake or Kydek OWB. Only time I adjust for printing is if the buttstock sticks out like a…well, a buttstock. I prefer semi’s for firepower, but carry wheelguns with a something-is-better-than-nothing justification.

  21. The PROBLEM is so many people work for ‘big corporations’ or other entities which prohibit CCW at work, so they have to behave as if they are carrying illegally – i.e. be ‘discreet’.

    Every time I find out an employer prohibits employees from CCW, I send them a strongly-worded letter indicating I no longer feel safe at their business, due to their anti-gun stance, which means that any criminals will operate unopposed. (The employees themselves are helpless to object, because that would reveal their ‘stance’ and subject them to increased scrutiny.)

    As someone who once worked for a ‘no-gun-on-premises’ employer (and carried a blank-firing ‘decoy’ gun in case a supervisor ever ‘caught’ me), I despise any employer who prohibits legally-licensed CCW on the part of their employees.

    As for myself, I’m in a pro-gun state, and self-employed, so I’ll carry a 7-1/2″ Redhawk if I take a notion…!

  22. I rotate pocket carry among an S&W Governor, a Sig 229, Sig 228 and a Sig 226 Tac Ops. I’m comfortable with all and wear pants with modified pockets that reduce printing. Could care less about printing generally, I’m more intetested in not advertising that I carry concealed.

  23. Add another I for the xdmod2 (.40s&w). This time of year in FL it is HOT & HUMID so t-shirts are the norm. I am a crossbreed iwb fan as the holster wears well even soaked in sweat. When I am on my road bike I use the 5.1.1 holster under arm t-shirt and carry the xds as the slimmer size is better suited for bicycle bibs & tops. I carry only xd… weapons because I don’t want to have to remember do I need to thumb a safety or not.

  24. I live in Texas as well. I got my license when we first passed concealed carry in the 90’s. For years I carried a Beretta #96 in a Galco Royal Guard IWB holster. Nobody ever said a word to me and I truly believe I’m the only one who knew I was carrying. The secret is a really good belt (first and foremost) and a really good holster. I’ve since moved on from my Galco to an N82Tactical IWB. Easily the most comfortable holster I’ve ever worn.

  25. Very good article.
    Yes it can be costly to find your most comfortable holster, but if not at a box store you can try different models to choose a good starter.
    The belt is just as important as holster.
    Do not just take your buds recommend, each of us is built differently, arms, chest and belly
    A shoulder holster of good fit and quality makes for most comfortsble day long carry in my case.

  26. Oh almost forgot, printing:
    If within Olympia/ Tacoma/Seattle corridor or close nearby’s be damned sure you do not print, and weapon remains highly concealed; or expect to find yourself being confronted by security or asked to leave store or mall by managers.
    And the cops are a bunch of paranoid freaks Who will not let you explain until you are apread and then bent and disarmed.
    The peoples no matyer numbers of active retired military are like Chinchillasbin a cage scare them and they faint or scream for help.

  27. H+K 45C in my com-tac IWB holster, spare mag in the left front pants pocket, every time I leave home. It is open carry where I live and since old habits die hard, given my background, I always give those around me a good once over. Quite a lot of larger smart phones print on folks and you would be amazed at just how many carry two these days. The guy in front of me in line at a convince store was slightly printing his conceal carry this past Saturday, but given his haircut, body posture, and situational awareness I was pretty sure he was a LEO. Bottom line is be aware of your surroundings at all times and if you are going to conceal carry then practice weapons retention, arm blocking and body positioning and any incidental printing will be even less noticeable.

  28. I disagree
    Since you said it is unlikely to ever need a gun, you should carry one that is small and lightwieght
    Then you will be more likely to ALWAYS carry it
    That is the first rule
    Have a gun!
    A small one will work just fine
    I alternate between the Sig 938 9mm and the Bersa Thunder cc .380
    Nice and small, 8 rounds, fit in a pocket or I.W.B.
    I never leave home without a gun
    And stay away from stupid people doing stupid things in stupid places

  29. Very good article. I live in Alabama and have been a police officer here for almost 20 years. For 18 of those years, my duty pistol has been a Glock 22 (Full size .40 caliber) that holds 15 rounds in the magazine. I carry a Glock 27 (Sub compact .40 caliber) that holds 9 rounds in the magazine as a back up weapon and like the fact that my 3 extra 15 round magazines on my duty belt, will feed either of the 2 pistols.

    I shoot both of my pistols a good bit, but I do prefer to shoot my full size the most. I carry my full size duty pistol off duty in a Bravo Concealment (Awesome holster) OWB kydex holster and 2 spare magazines in a dual magazine holder, also by the same company. Good sturdy belt is extremely important. I really like ratchet type gun belts. As with on duty, I carry my Glock 27 in a pocket holster in my week hand front pocket. I have had the misfortune of being in a gun fight with 3 armed robbers at a motel and I promise you, you can never carry too much ammo. No matter how much you train, accuracy decreases when the “fight or flight” kicks in.

    I do notice when someone is printing, but I kinda do that for my job. When on duty, if I notice someone carrying in a store or public area and they are just going about their business, I am perfectly comfortable. I believe everyone should be able to protect themselves, their loved ones and anyone else they care to ( ie., possibly even me).

  30. If you have been LE for decades you will get tired of carrying a full sized gun. You’ll be tempted to quit carrying. If it is comfortable, you’ll continue to carry. What you Always have with you will be what you depend on EDC. As a former Soldier/Commando and Special Agent, I’ve seen results of gunfights many times. .32/.380/9mm…. just say NO! get a small single stack .45 like my CW45, it will do the job well and comfortably. {of course: if you’re tracking a dangerous criminal put on your Tactical Rig with a G21}

    • I am convinced with the way things are going we will find it best to open carry an AR Carbine held up with good single point loop sling for hands free carry, but that’s just me.

  31. As for me, its an HK P30 SK in an Alien Gear IWB and spare mag in Galco pocket pack. Come fall & winter i will go HK VP9 in same holster.
    I am sensitive to printing since i carry everywhere except where they have metal detectors. Sometimes you cannot avoid no gun zones and i will not disarm.

  32. Never leave home without it! As for me, I’m a slight 130#, 5’6″ small guy but I carry a Taurus PT111 9mm, appendix carry IWB Clinger Atom holster with a Uticlip so I don’t have to wear a belt, or if tucked shirt, doesn’t show behind a belt. No printing, 13 rounds, and two mags that are either in my EDC bag or at least one in my back pocket. I carry anywhere that’s not illegal to carry and have never had a problem.
    Carry what you’re comfortable with… but CARRY!

  33. I agree with Mark Norman.
    A full size pistol is big and heavy. You will be tempted to not strap it on for a trip to the mailbox, or the store.
    A small light single stack can even go in a pocket for the 5 minute trip
    So it is always with you no matter what
    the first rule of gunfighting is bring a gun!


  35. I carry a Ruger 9E with a 17 round mag, with my favorite JHP (Hornady Critical Duty 135 grain) in a Mitch Rosen OWB rig. Works great.
    And, in case 17 (+1) is not enough, I have in my Mitch Rosen double mag carrier,
    with 17 more rounds of my favorite JHP and another mag with 17 round of 124 grain FMJ Winchester NATO for if I need more penetration. I like the slightly better versatility I get this way. LOTS of rounds and a choice, if need be.

  36. Austin is the bluest of Texas cities but printing isn’t something to worry about even here. I’m 5’8″ and 165#. With a good belt I carry a full size M&P 9 either IWB or OWB and a double mag carrier under a t-shirt and wearing shorts. I get slight printing if I turn or bend but otherwise it’s not an issue. Odds are against my EVER needing all 52 Gold Dots but I find that the mag carrier helps to spread out the weight and pressure on the belt and actually makes carrying the pistol more comfortable and stable on my hips. YMMV, so find the combination that works best for you.

  37. I carry a full size M&P 9mm or FNX 45 and that’s a big gun and I have no problem like the article say I’d rather have a big one then a small one and more rounds I rather go with peace of mind then being comfortable