the most noble use for cowhide.

Here are the two main carry rigs I use to comfortably schlep around the Beretta M9 (42oz. loaded weight) and two spare magazines (7.5oz. each):


Bianchi #3S “Pistol Pocket”


Gould & Goodrich “Gold Line” horizontal shoulder holster

Two holsters, both alike in dign…you know what? No. The belt holster is fine as far as reputation goes, but the shoulder rig has no dignity. Let your gun-savvy friends spot you with a shoulder holster, and you’ll have to endure a lot of “Miami Vice” or “Die Hard” jokes.

Let’s go through the advantages and disadvantages of each holster:

Inside-the-waistband belt holster



–Requires only a light cover garment to conceal

–Can be removed from the belt without having to take the cover garment off

–Fast draw

–Easy one-handed reholstering


–Clunks into chairs when seated

–Difficult to access in a sitting position

–Slow draw when wearing multiple layers of cold-weather clothes

–May print when bending over or when the cover garment rides up


Shoulder holster


–Easy access while seated

–Comfortable; distributes gun weight across both shoulders

–Keeps gun and spare ammo together in a grab & go package

–Doesn’t require a sturdy belt

–Doesn’t print to the rear when bending over


–Requires substantial cover garment (an untucked t-shirt won’t cut it)

–Slow draw

–Muzzle safety on the draw (muzzle line crosses own arm if it’s not kept out of the way; gun points at stuff behind the wearer)

–Almost impossible to reholster with one hand

–Presents the firearm butt-forward; potential vulnerability to a gun grab by an assailant (see also: slow draw)

–Cannot be taken off without removing the covering garment first


So which one is the better holster of the two? The answer is a resounding “it depends”.

Today here in Upper Cryogenica, it’s 92 degrees outside. I would not be able to carry that shoulder rig very well. I could put on an untucked short-sleeved shirt over the t-shirt and shoulder rig, but that a.) looks goofy and b.) feels uncomfortable. The Bianchi IWB holster, on the other hand, tucks that Beretta away under an untucked t-shirt, and you won’t be able to tell it’s there unless you have super observation skills or give me a pat-down. In warm to moderate weather, doing regular everyday stuff just walking around, the IWB holster is the better holster of the two.

In January, it will be anywhere from twenty to minus twenty degrees outside, and I’ll be wearing an undershirt, a button-down shirt, a fleece shirt or vest on top, and possibly even a heavy jacket. Getting to that Beretta in the IWB holster will require unzipping the outer garment and digging through two more layers of clothing, or trying to yank everything up over the holster, full pockets and all. The shoulder rig, on the other hand, makes the gun quickly accessible merely by unzipping the jacket zipper halfway (or leaving it that way to begin with.) In cold to severe weather that requires heavier clothing, or doing stuff that requires sitting down or driving a lot, the shoulder holster is the better of the two.

The gun’s a tool, but so is the holster, and that’s why it’s smart to have a toolbox of various holsters for various circumstances. The tactical crowd will tell you that you should always wear your gun at your hip because it conceals best that way and puts it in the same position all the time, but life isn’t a shoothouse, and only the most hardcore dedicated operator types can tailor their clothing and lifestyle around just one carry method. I’m not one of those, so I tailor the carry method to my lifestyle on the fly.

(One thing I will not compromise on, however, is the color-matching. Black holster, black belt, black shoes. Brown holster, brown leather on the rest of the body as well. There’s just no excuse for being unfashionable.)

reader question: what’s wrong with gun registration?

Commenter “Jarin” has a question regarding gun registration which I answered in the comments thread, but which deserves a blog post response.

Jarin asks:

I don’t understand what the fuss is about registration… (no, really, I don’t get it, someone please explain it). Why should we not have registration for something as easily dangerous as guns? Why should firearms have less regulation than automobiles? Seriously, look at the paperwork around owning and operating a car. And yet, everyone does it. Why not treat firearms similarly?

First of all, registration does not do anything to prevent crime. Don’t believe it? Let me write down the serial number of my gun on these two pieces of paper and hand you one of them. What crime exactly are you going to prevent with that?

Second, registration is pretty much good for nothing except preparatory groundwork for confiscation. (Look at NY for a current-day example.) Canada’s expensive gun registration did not help solve a single crime but carried a $60 million price tag. That’s a lot of money that could have gone to stuff that actually fights crime. Lots of gun owners in this country get justifiably nervous at the idea of a registry of firearms when historically such a registry has only ever served to provide the authorities with a list of addresses for confiscating firearms.

Third, firearms do not have “less regulation than automobiles”. If they did, I’d be able to walk into any gun store and walk out with any gun I want, without having to show anything but a means to pay. I could own whatever I wanted on my own property without license or insurance (you only need those for a car if you plan on operating it on public roads.) My carry license would be valid in all fifty states and most countries abroad.

I wish they’d treat firearms like cars when it comes to regulation. If cars were regulated like guns, you’d need to pass a federal background check for each and every dealer purchase, your driver’s license would only be good in your own state unless some other state had explicitly agreed to reciprocity, and things like the capacity of your gas tank, the spoiler on your trunk lid, or the mode of shifting could be legal in one state but a five-year mandatory felony prison term in a neighboring state.

no, i expect you to clear a type 2 malfunction, mister bond.

You know, I LOVE the Bond reboot. Daniel Craig is my James Bond now. But there are a few minor things that rub me the wrong way, and the biggest one is the regression in Bond’s firearms.

In CASINO ROYALE, Bond carries a perfectly serviceable Walther P99 in 9mm. But by the time we get to SKYFALL, Bond has downgraded to a Walther PPK. The PPK is a fine little pocket gun, but a single-stack blowback .380 with tiny sights is absolutely not a believable choice for a stone-cold secret agent killer type who routinely gets into gunfights with other stone-cold secret agent killer types.

I know the PPK has been Bond’s trademark gun since Connery, but they really could have gone with the times when it comes to his pistol. I mean, they updated everything else.

(Of course, one could argue it’s a sign of Bond’s badassitude that he can clean the clocks of his opponents with just a PPK.)

derputy herpyderp.

There are a few things I know for sure about Officer Reverse Eotech:

  • He has never been to the range to properly zero his carbine. Probably took it out of the box, loaded it up, mounted the sight improperly, and put the whole thing into the trunk of his cruiser.
  • He went to a hot call with a weapon that has never been zeroed, with a sight that’s non-functional the way it is mounted. Had he been in a situation where he had to use his carbine to stop a threat, he wouldn’t have been able to aim accurately.
  • He did not pay for that sight out of his own pocket. I know hundreds of shooters, and I can guarantee that every last one of them wouldn’t shell out $500 for a holosight without finding out how to properly use it.

But remember, only the cops should be armed, because they’re the ones with the training.

(Never mind the fact that Officer Reverse Eotech is carrying an AR-15 carbine—you know, the kind of gun that’s only good for killing as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Except when a guy with a badge holds one. Then it becomes a patrol carbine and a personal defense weapon.)

the amazing morphing definition.

When you or I have them, they’re called “assault weapons”, and they’re made for nothing but killing large numbers of people rapidly, and totally useless for self-defense besides.

When law enforcement officers have them, they’re called “patrol rifles”, and they’re the best tool for protecting innocent citizens from violent criminals.

When the government orders 7,000 of them, they’re called “personal defense weapons”, and the DHS wants them because they are “suitable for self-defense in close quarters.”

Which is it? Are they only made for killing lots of people rapidly, or “suitable for self-defense in close quarters”? If they’re only good for rapid indiscriminate killing, why would cops and DHS agents need them? And if they have a legit self-defense function, why should they be banned for civilian use? The Federal government seems to think that these kinds of rifles are ideal for personal protection, otherwise they’d be ordering something else to fit the “personal defense” role. They can, after all, order whatever they want.

(And the versions ordered by the DHS are fully automatic machine guns, unlike the semi-automatic rifles available to Joe and Jane Citizen.)

the impartial media and virtual scarlet letters.

So a newspaper called The Journal News put up an interactive map marking the location of every single registered pistol permit holder in two New York counties. Predictably, they’re getting a little bit of flak for that.

Also predictably, the paper’s defense is all “that’s public information, and the public has a right to know.” This is a weaselly cop-out. Lots of things are public information, but not smart to collate and present on an interactive map for easy access. Can you imagine the (rightful) uproar if  a conservative-leaning rag published the names and addresses of every single gay married couple in their county? It would be correctly interpreted as an attempt to intimidate and stigmatize the gay couples, and lambasted as a shopping list for gay-bashers to find homes to deface and people to harass. Yes, you can still get that information if you really want it, but you’d have to file a FOIA request and put together all the data by yourself, which is not something the average knuckle-dragging gay-hater is going to do.

To anyone who is entirely honest with themselves, the newspaper’s publication of gun permit holders has only one purpose: to stigmatize gun owners along the lines of sex offenders. There is no public safety interest in this. The map only shows the legally licensed handguns in the area. It does not show the illegally owned guns (which are far more likely to be used in a crime), nor does it show shotguns and rifles, which do not need to be registered in New York state. (With all the concern about “assault rifles”, why publish a map that only shows the handgun owners, and only the properly licensed ones at that?) More importantly, it also exposes the “call for sensible gun laws” as a lie. The map makes no distinction between someone with a .22 target pistol, a five-shot revolver, or a Glock 19 with those evil high-capacity magazines. The people on that map are already following the “sensible laws” that are being proposed by anti-gun activists on a federal level. They are a.) licensed, b.) registered, and c.) subject to an “assault weapons ban” (New York has one that closely follows the expired 1994 AWB they want revived on the federal level.) Why pick on the legal handgun owners if assault rifles are the problem? Why pick on the legal handgun owners if lack of registration or licensing are the problem? Why do so in a state that already has mandatory handgun registration and an assault weapons ban?

The answer, of course, is that they don’t care about that sort of stuff. To them “sensible gun laws” really mean “no guns in private hands”. They also don’t care about the public safety they proclaim their map serves. People who care about public safety don’t provide criminals with an easy-to-use map of who owns guns and who doesn’t. If you know where the legally owned guns are, you know where to break in while the home owner is at work. If you know where there’s no legally registered gun, you know where to break in if you want fewer occupational hazards. And if you’re a disgruntled ex-husband whose battered former spouse chose to back up the restraining order with a pistol permit and a .38 in her purse, you can find her new address and map out directions to her place with two mouse clicks. No, there is nothing you can do with that sort of map that actually enhances public safety.

But like I said—that’s not what it’s for. It’s an attempt of a nominally impartial newspaper to influence a public policy debate by taking a side and clumsily attempting to stigmatize the other side by equating them with sex offenders. Regardless of where you stand on guns and private gun ownership, that sort of tactic should raise eyebrows.

calling the scattergun experts.

I said in the comments to the post about the fox that I use only birdshot in my shotgun because of its age and the fact that it has a full choke, but to tell the truth, I’m not entirely sure. (If in doubt, play it safe, especially when you’re dealing with things that generate ten thousand PSI of pressure right next to your face.)

But there have to be people out there in Internet land who know for sure—is it safe to fire buckshot or slugs out of that particular scattergun? We’re talking about a Remington Model 11 (the Remington version of the Browning Auto-5), 1935 vintage, with a full choke, friction rings stacked for heavy loads. What say the jurors?