Obtaining a Concealed Carry Permit is a major step in the right direction to augment personal defense for yourself and your loved ones. If you haven’t already done so, the next step is choosing a suitable firearm. However, many shooters go out and buy the most powerful gun with the most accessories that their budget will allow, only to find out later that they are in over their head at the range.pathfinder

That’s why many experts recommend a double action revolver as a first gun, especially if it’s to be used as a concealed carry personal defense firearm.

Charter Arms produces a line of snub nose revolvers that are made in the USA and offer a combination of concealability, ease of operation, and durability.

The Pathfinder .22 is one of the viable conceal carry models from this line and is available in either .22LR or .22 Magnum.

The Pathfinder is a six-round revolver made of solid stainless steel with a blue-collar matte finish and is roughly the same size as the legendary Smith & Wesson J-frame pistols. The .22LR is recommended for newer shooters because the recoil is negligible when compared to hand-jarring kickback of the Magnum.  Author Scott W. Wagner points out the difference in his article “Charter Arms Pathfinder .22 Snubbie: An Affordable and Reliable Revolver” at

“Not everyone can handle harder kicking rounds in revolvers this size. I would much rather have somebody learn quickly to be extremely accurate and comfortable with a .22, than to be apprehensive and marginally accurate (or worse) with a .38.” (Read more at

As with all .22 handguns, accuracy was a function of ammo type. At 25 yards, groupings ranged from 3.25 inches using Winchester Dynapoint 40 grain to 1 inch using Federal Bulk Hollowpoint.  Interestingly, the normally reliable Remington Yellow Jacket semi-wadcutter hollow point loads did not work well with the Charter Arms Pathfinder with more than half the rounds striking the target sideways.

A fully loaded Pathfinder chambers 6 rounds of either .22LR or .22 Magnum ammunition.  A .22 is not known for its stopping power, so it’ probably a good idea to stow some backup rounds somewhere on your person.  Speedloaders are available for the Pathfinder, but the ammo is usually lubricated and easily picks up pocket debris, making for a less than optimal reloading scenario, especially under duress.

Quickstrips, manufactured by Tuff Products, might be a better option.  These are narrow strips of bullets that resemble miniature bandoleros. For the Pathfinder 22LR, the ammo comes in strips of 10, making it easy to conceal 10 or 20 backup rounds in a pocket or purse.

The Pathfinder is a durable, reliable, and accurate revolver that is also a superb concealed carry weapon. The small caliber also makes it an excellent choice for beginning shooters and with an MSRP of $369, it is hard to not like this little pistol.

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Subcompacts and minis are all the rage right now in the concealed carry community and rightly so. The guns generally cover the basic elements needed for an efficient carry weapon – they’re lightweight, accurate, reliable, can take a punishment, and have enough stopping power to get the job done. sig sauer

Sig Sauer’s entry into the micro market emphasizes the final requirement on the list with its powerful P290 9mm pistol; a step up in firepower from the traditional .380 ACP micro loads.

The P290 measures about six inches long and four inches high and Sig Sauer puts the larger dimensions to good use.

The magazine is a 6+1 and the chamber can handle +P ammunition.

The P290 weighs 20 ounces unloaded, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as author Duane Daiker explains in his article “Sig Sauer P290: A Small Gun That Delivers Big” at

“Consider that one of the traditional concealed carry favorites, a 5-shot stainless steel snubnose revolver, weighs several ounces more and packs less firepower.  In a strange way, the relative bulk of the P290 actually inspires some confidence in the gun and makes for a very comfortable feel in the hand.” (Read more at

The slightly heavier weight of the Sig Sauer P290 is the result of a durable polymer frame construction combined with a stainless steel slide.  The Sig Sauer signature tritium SIGLITE full-sized night sights are also standard issue, which is a nice feature on a smaller gun. Sig also offers interchangeable side plates for the P290 grips. If you don’t like the textured black grips that come with the gun, Sig offers alternatives in aluminum, wood, or colored polymers.

9mm rounds can produce quite a kick on a pocket gun, but the extra ounces on the P290 do a good job of mitigating the recoil and muzzle blast, especially when using +P ammo.  And although the gun is small, it has oversized sights and controls as well as a larger slide for ease of operation.

During range testing, the Sig P290 proved its mettle. At standard self-defense distances of about 15-20 feet, the pistol easily produced one-inch groups time after time.  At thirty feet, the groupings were about 3 inches, which is still highly effective in a gunfight. At longer distances, the P290 continued to put all rounds into the torso area of a silhouette target.

The trigger pull on this double-action-only firearm is somewhat heavy at 10 pounds and takes some getting used to, but as a concealed carry weapon, the heavier trigger provides an added measure of safety.

Another accessory that Sig Sauer offers for the P290 is a laser sight, which slides into a slot on the bottom of the dust cover and cannot be distinguished from the rest of the gun when attached.  It has activation buttons on either side and emits the familiar red dot.

The Sig Sauer P290 is a little larger than most micros, but gives an extra sense of security with the 9mm boost in firepower. The gun easily fits into a pocket or can be carried in most holstered positions. If you want to kick your personal defense arsenal up a notch, the P290 may be what you are looking for.

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Concealed Carry permit holders are generally fans of one type of gun or another based on their lifestyle and self-defense needs, but when a gun comes along that calls itself the “Super Carry Ultra,” it’s going to turn the heads of a lot of people looking for new methods to reduce printing, increase comfort without giving up power, or to improve accuracy.kimber

Kimber’s version of the 1911 .45 ACP goes beyond trimming specs and ammo capacity for their version of the iconic handgun.

With its Super Carry Ultra, Kimber has come as close to a melt-job as you can get without dropping your firearm at your favorite gunsmith for a custom (read: expensive) retooling.

In her article “Kimber’s Super Carry Ultra” at, author and firearms trainer Diane Walls describes some of the carry-friendly features that are creating a rapidly growing demand for the Super Carry Ultra:

“All of the edges have been given the carry melt treatment to take away the sharp angles. This means the safety, grip safety, magazine release, take-down pin, and hammer spur have been smoothed just enough to make them comfortable without being difficult to use.” (Read more at

In addition, Kimber has beveled the grip’s back edge and the serrations on the slide and the grip are scaled rather than checkered, giving a sturdier, yet comfortable grip and easier draw.  Kimber’s own KimPro coating makes the Super Carry Ultra self-lubricating and less likely to show the effects of weather, perspiration, and range training that are the by-products of daily carry.

The aluminum frame of the Super Carry Ultra is another benefit for concealed carry as the gun is considerably lighter than a standard 1911, tipping the scales at 25 ounces unloaded.  However, the light weight combined with the .45 ACP caliber caused some problems on the range.

During field testing, the recoil on the Super Carry Ultra was described as “snappy.”  Despite its appeal as the ultimate carry gun, it is difficult to control and should be used by experienced shooters.  The light trigger pull at about 4.5 pounds could also affect accuracy for newer shooters. Fortunately, the tritium night sights are a nice feature on this firearm that will improve the accuracy of all shooters, regardless of experience.

Experienced shooters on the other hand, should have no problems getting good groupings of the 7-round magazine out to 10 yards, even with the non-dominant hand.  The learning curve for the Kimber Super Carry Ultra is a long one and Kimber recommends a break-in period of about 500 rounds before the shooter will begin to get a feel for it and also allows the gun’s mechanisms to pass muster.  The Super Carry Ultra did experience some minor feeding issues with ball rounds and conical 185 gr. +P jacketed hollow points during field testing.

The Kimber Super Carry Ultra is an excellent carry gun. Its trimmed down 1911 styling makes up for what it lacks in capacity with power. Kimber made its reputation on the 1911 pistol. The scaled down Super Carry Ultra incorporates the years of design and engineering excellence seen in all Kimber firearms and has the same custom options available. The Super Carry Ultra lists for about $1200.

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Almost every male carries a pocketknife of one type or another, ranging from the simple single blade folding knife to the intricate workings of a Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman tool. They all have their purpose, but no knife has more mystique than the switchblade; a coveted treasure of the adolescent male. This legendary blade provided instant status and even more street credibility because they were illegal.self-defense knife

Today, the switchblade or automatic knife is legislated by a myriad of laws at different levels and in different states. The right to own or carry these blades has been interpreted by each state as they see fit.

The only universal element to these laws seems to be the Federal definition of a switchblade, which states it is any blade that opens “by hand pressure applied to a button or other device in the handle of the knife….”

Yet the trend seems to be moving towards legalizing both the ownership and carry of these knives. Because of this, Gerber has wasted no time in designing blades to fulfill the demand. One of these is the Propel Auto, a full-size automatic tactical knife that is rugged and quickly deployed with one hand.

The Propel Auto blade is manufactured in high carbon 420 steel and finished down to a 3.5 inch partially serrated blade with teeth sharp enough to cut thin metal.  At the end of the black oxide coated blade is a Tanto style point. The black G-10 handle matches the coated blade and reduces reflectivity.

The Gerber designers knew that everyone has a different way to carry their knife, so they created an adjustable and reversible clip that allows the Propel Auto to be carried safely on belt, in pocket, and on either side.

Using the Propel Auto is easy and extremely quick.  Author Scott W. Wagner describes the knife’s operation in his article “Full-Auto: Gerber’s New Propel Automatic Knife” at

“The automatic action uses a plunge lock and a safety switch. Pull the safety switch toward you to unlock. Next, push in the round silver button above it to force the blade to open and lock forcefully.”(Read more at

If you’re interested in owning a Propel Auto, there are restrictions on purchasing one from the Gerber site. Purchases are limited to active duty military, National Guard, federal, state, and local police, fire, EMS, and military retirees.  However the Propel Auto is available at alternative sites such as

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By its very nature, concealed carry means being armed just about all the time, anyplace and anywhere. Naturally this puts some limitations on the type of firearm you’re going to be able to hide away on your body.  Finding a suitable weapon usually means a compromise on size, firepower, or accuracy.10mm

Now European American Armory Corporation (EEA) has entered the concealed carry fray with a gun that’s determined to leave no room for compromise: the Witness Compact 10mm.

The 10mm cartridge is somewhat of a newcomer, having only been introduced in 1983.

The caliber is a powerful one, falling between the .357 magnum and .41 magnum.

It’s also an extremely flexible cartridge in that it can be chambered into 1911 guns and offers a wide range of performance options from 135 grain rounds at 1600 fps to 200 grain bullets at 1200 fps.

But with the advent of the 9mm handgun, the 10mm became less and less popular and harder and harder to find.

The EEA Compact Witness hopes to reverse the trend. This gun is first and foremost about power, as author George Hill describes in his article “EEA Witness Compact 10mm” at

“The EAA Witness 10mm with its four inch tube blasted through the same metal so easily that it looked like we used a Dewalt power drill. The penetration is incredibly impressive. You don’t see this sort of power from a gun you hide on your person.” (Read more at

The specs on Compact Witness fall in line with what you’d expect with this caliber.  It’s rather heavy, tipping the scale at 30 ounces unloaded, but the weight is a benefit with this gun as it keeps the muzzle flip in check.

Out of the box, the Compact Witness is an all-steel, double action system with a four-inch barrel and EAA’s own “Wonder Finish.” Sights on this gun are the standard fixed three dot type with no frills.

The recoil on the Compact Witness 10mm is intense, but EAA designers have mitigated the severity of the impact with the use of thick rubbery grips. Unfortunately, these grips are something of a downside and make the Compact Witness difficult to conceal.

However with a few tweaks by your local gunsmith, it can easily become the ultimate carry weapon.  The sights only need to be replaced with night sights for it to be a true carry anywhere, anytime weapon.

The oversized insulated grips create a huge print, so low imprint aluminum grips from a supplier like Hogue would greatly reduce the profile.

Finally, the sharp edges are going to irritate all the wrong places during carry and the barrel is a little too long for concealment purposes. Hone down the edges and shorten the barrel and you’ve got perfection.

At $450, the price is reasonable and with a little more investment in time and labor, it could become a preeminent concealed carry firearm that can bring down just about any emergency it goes up against.


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Skyy Industries is not a name often heard when the talk turns to firearms, but that may be about to change. Skyy’s first gun is the CPX-1, a compact 9mm that is similar in design to the Kel-Tec P-11. The gun is produced as a low-cost alternative to some of the pricier concealed carry weapons on the market today.9mm

But in the case of the CPX-1, the lower cost does not translate into lower quality.

Author Duane A. Daiker describes some of the superior attributes of the CPX-1 in his article “Skyy CPX-1: A New Choice for Carry” at

“The feeling of quality is further enhanced by the high quality packaging, including a well-written instruction manual, an actual trigger lock (instead of the generic cable lock we see from most companies these days), and two magazines with finger extensions.” (Read more at

This gun is a double-action-only system with a concealed hammer. Skyy just upgraded its standard magazine capacity for the CPX-1 from nine to ten, which puts the gun capacity at 10+1.  Skyy ships an extra magazine with the gun too, which is a really nice perk, but be aware of the fact that the Skyy magazines will only work with Skyy firearms.

Most of the other controls on the CPX-1 are fairly standard. The magazine release is at the bottom of the trigger guard and the slide has an over-sized release that is easily accessible.  The CPX-1 is equipped with a safety lever, which is an unusual feature for a double-action only weapon. It is easy to release, but requires some effort to put back into the “safe” position. Skyy reports that they’re considering producing an updated version of the CPX-1 without the manual safety in the near future.

During field testing, the CPX-1 performed reasonably well, especially for close-range, self-defense purposes. At seven yards, all rounds basically went through the same hole, while at 25 yards, all rounds scored hits on a standard silhouette target.  The nine pound trigger pull is rather heavy for a gun this size, but recoil is about average with standard 9mm rounds. However, Skyy does not recommend using +P rounds with this gun.

The Skyy CPX-1 is an excellent concealed carry weapon that serves equally as well as an inside-the-waistband or outside-the-waistband carry.  The gun is also small enough to fit in a baggy pocket.

The CPX-1 is not an elite 9mm, but it was not designed to be. It has met its goal of being an affordable, high-quality defensive firearm with plenty of stopping power. The CPX-1 lists for about $300.00 and Skyy backs it with a lifetime no-questions-asked warranty.  If you’re looking for a firearm bargain, it doesn’t get much better than the Skyy CPX-1.

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Many gun manufacturers tweak their best-sellers a little and market the new and improved version as “custom.” Wilson Combat is not one of those. Their production facility in Berryville, Arkansas exudes professionalism, quality, and an unmatched commitment to excellence. The reliability of the Wilson arsenal is legendary and their trademarked “Bullet Proof” line of parts and accessories is a long-standing customer favorite.wilson combat

It comes as no surprise then that the new Tactical Carry 1911 .45 sits at the top of the food chain. The gun comes packed in a handsomely embroidered nylon carry bag, complete with pockets and pouches for accessories as well as three additional magazines.

The first thing you notice out of the box is the color. The Wilson proprietary ARMOR-TUFF black coated slide and Burnt Bronze frame combine to give the Tactical Carry a golden hue not seen in run-of-the-mill finishes.

The steel frame is also outfitted with a Bullet Proof magwell that eases reloading. Then there is the cut checkering on the front and back straps that provide a secure, comfortable grip surface while firing.

The Wilson Combat Tactical Carry 1911 .45 is extremely accurate, easily producing one-inch groupings at 25 yards using three different test loads. The trigger pull is “just right” at 3.5 pounds. When the unloaded weight of 37.8 ounces is combined with the Wilson add-ons, the Tactical Carry is a very controllable weapon to shoot with negligible muzzle flip.

Even at 100 yards, 75 % of the rounds hit the target silhouette from the standing position. All rounds chambered flawlessly without a misfire or malfunction.  If you’re planning on using the Tactical Carry as a concealed carry piece, it is probably best holstered on a belt, due to the larger size and weight.

With its commitment to design quality and unparalleled accuracy, the Tactical Carry 1911 .45 is a joy to handle and shoot. In his article “Wilson Combat Tactical Carry: The Ultimate in Custom 1911 .45s” at, firearms trainer Scott W. Wagner describes how he felt when testing the gun:

“It was good to get a Wilson Combat pistol in my hands again. I had forgotten how different these guns are from even top of the line production 1911s. While the price tag is much higher than factory 1911s, you truly do get what you pay for.” (Read more at

And just how much will at Tactical Carry 1911 .45 set you back?  About $3750. But for a lifelong weapon that is reliable, accurate and sports an exhibition quality finish, it’s worth a good, long look.

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If a gun could ever be classified as a “venerable institution,” the 1911 would probably come the closest.  It has a long history of reliable performance since its inception in 1911 as the standard-issue sidearm. It’s seen service for United States Armed Forces in the Spanish-American War, World War l, World War ll, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.kimber pro

The 1911 has traditionally been marketed with many custom accessories and finishes, ranging from gun metal blue to exotic woods.

Now Kimber firearms is taking John Browning’s famous pistol to the next level with the Pro Carry ll, a 1911 designed exclusively for concealed carry.

As author Mark Kakkuri explains in his article “Kimber Pro Carry II” at, the Kimber Pro Carry II offers a back-to-basics design that is ideal for concealed carry:

“The stocks are black rubber and provide excellent purchase, so much so that I’ve always returned to them after trying other options. The black slide and frame and even the front and rear sights are all-business-black. “(Read more at

So what is it about the Pro Carry ll that makes it a concealed carry exclusive?

First of all, it’s designed with a slim, low imprint profile, and tips the scales at an ethereal 5.25 ounces unloaded.  When combined with a steel slide and aluminum frame, this gun can easily be carried throughout the day without discomfort. A heavily textured grip and single-stack 7+1 magazine makes for an easy draw and fire from any concealed holster.

Range testing for the Pro Carry ll took place during a two month period, allowing for many opportunities and locations to put the gun through its paces. The Pro Carry ll proved flawless through runs of several ammo types including jacketed hollow points and ball ammo.  There were no jams, misfires, or other mishaps throughout the feeding, firing, and ejection phases.

Although there have been reported incidents of isolated operational malfunctions with this gun during the extended field test, the Kimber Pro Carry II proved 100% reliable.  The trigger pull was approximately 4-5 pounds and recoil was medium.

The Kimber Pro Carry ll is designed as a self-defense conceal carry firearm. As such, it will not perform well in a range environment, chambering thousands of rounds over an extended period of time.  But if you’re looking for a reliable, accurate, easy to use self-defense firearm, then definitely take a closer look at the Kimber Pro Carry ll.

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