I have carried a variety of pistols since Oklahoma authorized concealed carry in 1995. At the time I owned a Ruger P89DC 9mm which I enjoyed shooting, but I felt it was too big for me to carry, especially considering I often wore a suite and tie daily to work. After I got my carry permit I decided to purchase something much smaller and settled on a KAHR ARMS K9 – a nice small all-steel single stack striker fired pistol. There were not a lot of small light weight polymer pistols available in 1995 and the K9 seemed to fit my needs. I didn’t carry every day and mostly just kept a gun in my vehicle, mistakenly thinking that if trouble came I would generally be close to my car or truck. My kids were small at the time so I seldom just left a gun in the truck. Instead I would bring my pistol if I was going someplace I thought I might need it, such as camping or hunting or exploring back roads.
Later I picked up a small Smith and Wesson Airweight J-Frame pistol in .38 Special caliber. It was much smaller and lighter weight than my K9 and was easier to carry when backpacking or camping. At the time I felt 5 rounds of .38 Special +P rounds was plenty of firepower, and carried 5 additional rounds in a speed loader.
But I didn’t consistently carry a pistol. I would carry, but just in my truck or backpack or briefcase, or sometimes in my motorcycle tank bag. I was always mindful of being around my kids and their friends and didn’t feel comfortable leaving a loaded pistol laying around in a backpack or in the glovebox of my truck. I would bring a gun when I thought I might have a need for it and when I was sure I could keep the gun away from kids. I wasn’t too worried about my son or daughter, since they grew up around firearms and by the time they were 12-14 years old they knew how to be safe around guns. I was more worried about their friends who may not be familiar with the dangers of loaded firearms so I was always very careful carrying a loaded weapon.
Full Time Carry
That all changed in 2010. My wife and I were on a dual sport motorcycle ride in a very rural area of southeast Oklahoma. We were accosted by a paroled felon who chased us down and tried to run us over with his truck, and even attempted to use a baseball bat to attack us us, all for running over his dog. He in fact rammed into my motorcycle twice while I was trying to protect my fear-struck wife. The incident ended with no serious injuries but that experience prompted me to NEVER leave home without a sidearm. It is a sick feeling as a husband to be unable to protect my wife from bad people. I swore to always carry after that incident.
Since that incident I have always carried my firearm, but not always on my person. I would often carry it in my laptop case, which was always with me. I might stick it in a jacket pocket, in the console of my truck, or in my backpack. I kept it near at hand, but that is not the same as actually keeping the gun on my person.
I was broken from that bad habit a couple of years later, as I was once again confronted by an angry aggressor, this time at a coffee shop. A patron angry over how I had parked made aggressive moves towards me while screaming, cursing and threatening me. This all happened in seconds and my gun was buried in my backpack and not easily accessible. Luckily the incident didn’t escalate into physical violence, but I was shaken by how quickly this happened and realized that I needed to keep my gun on my person and quickly accessible, since mere seconds could easily make the difference between life and death.
Once I decided to always carry my gun on my body, I first took a look at the pistols I already owned. I started carrying my KAHR Arms K9 in an outside the waistband holster, but it was hard to conceal. I could have gotten an IWB holster but I wasn’t wild about the trigger pull on the K9 – it was a very long pull that made it hard for me to group my shots properly. The gun also didn’t have a safety of any kind, which made me equally nervous. I really liked the grips and handling, but at the time I felt the gun was still a bit heavy for everyday carry.
Smith and Wesson J-Frame .38 Special
I carried my Smith and Wesson J-frame .38 Special in an OWB holster for a period of time. It was smaller and much easier to conceal than the K9. I really liked this revolver and still keep one at my office and in my bedroom, but the short barrel made accuracy a challenge, and the gun still made a slight bulge in my waste band. It was also slow to reload even with a speed loader, but did pack a big punch with +P loads. I still really like this gun and would not hesitate to carry it if I need a really small, powerful, and reliable weapon.
Like many gun enthusiasts, I often look for a reason to add another pistol to my collection. After seeing how easy it was for a friend to hide his Ruger LCP, I purchased this little .380 and paired it with a pocket holster. It was perfect – until I shot it. Holy cow, it was NOT fun to shoot at all. It had a very sharp recoil and would barely fit my hand so was uncomfortable when fired, hence I seldom practiced with the gun. I tried giving it to my daughter. She liked the small size until she shot the pistol and had the same reaction I did – NOT FUN! I carried the Ruger for about a year every day but kept on the lookout for another small pistol that was easier to shoot.
After shooting a friend’s SIG P-238 in .380 auto, I fell in the love with this mini-1911 firearm. At only $500 it was a good value. I was a bit concerned about carrying it “cocked and locked” but after a few weeks I became comfortable with this method and it became no big deal. I just made sure and checked the safety every time I touched the gun. This diminutive but solid-built pistol was much more fun to shoot than the Ruger LCP and I was noticeably more accurate with the P-238. I didn’t mind shooting it at the range and often did. It still is one of my favorite pistols and something I still carry when in need a really small gun.
At first I carried it in a pocket holster and was quite happy with this arraignment, but eventually tried a DeSantis kidney carry IWB holster. I felt I could access and draw the gun much faster and more reliably this way and it became my default carry method for about a year. I was comfortable with 6+1 rounds of .380 +P loads in the gun plus another 6 rounds in the spare magazine I carried in my pocket. I considered the SIG P-938 so that I could have 9mm rather than .380 loads, but the P-938 was quite a bit more expensive and I felt the P-238 was enough to make thugs and thieves leave me alone.
Then Paris happened.
As most people know, Islamic extremists attacked Paris on November 13, 2015. Eight murderers used automatic weapons and bombs to kill 129 people and injure many more.
This event made me nervous. France is a bastion of gun control, yet the perpetrators were able to easily acquire fully automatic weapons and no one noticed. Of course, that didn’t surprise me in the least. Most gun owners know gun-free zones are really “killing zones” and make soft targets for people intent on doing harm, and criminals seldom have trouble finding weapons.
The Paris attacks left me worried and unsettled, but I wasn’t sure why. I knew it could happen here just as easily as it could in Paris. Yet Oklahoma is a gun friendly state and a LOT of people carry personal defense weapons. I ALWAYS carried my SIG P238 and felt comfortable using it if needed and I felt confident I could hit what I was shooting at.
One worry was that I had only practiced with my SIG at the gun range and never in a combat simulation. Things are different when bullets are flying and adrenaline is pumping like a broken fire hydrant. I knew this not from shooting my gun, but from other sticky situations such as airplane emergencies and motorcycle accidents. I knew from those experiences that training was paramount – when things go to hell in a hand basket and we don’t have time to think, we fall back on our training and muscle memory. And I knew from shooting USPSA pistol matches that a SIG P238 in .380 caliber wasn’t a great choice to knock down steel targets. Not only was the round not powerful enough to reliably knock down steel targets, but the magazine capacity was quite limited and would make it difficult to get through even one scenario at the range. And from everything I had read, knocking down a determined terrorist was going to much more difficult than knocking down a steel target.
As Yoda might say, “unsettled I was”.
Then San Bernadino happened.
I knew in my mind that jihadist murderers could easily attack in America, but so far the attacks had been limited. Garland, TX. Fort Hood. Boston.
San Bernadino felt different. Maybe it was the live TV coverage of a running gunfight. Maybe it was the number of people killed, and the ease with which the carnage was brought upon regular Americans. Maybe it was the husband and wife, dressed in black tactical gear, shooting innocent bystanders without a thought, and willing to die for their cause. Maybe it was the hatred that causes a mother and father to abandon their newborn child, pick up arms and go on a killing spree.
Whatever the reason, San Bernadino left me scared. Not just nervous or unsettled. Scared.
But this time I knew why.
After seeing the running gunfight live in high definition TV, I could see how much ammunition was expended on both sides and how difficult it was for police to actually end the threat. I felt I wasn’t carrying enough firepower to defend myself and my family against these crazed terrorists filled with enough hatred to leave their young child while they went and murdered innocent civilians.
I had a full sized pistol I could carry but it just felt too big for every day carry. Instead what I usually carried was my SIG P238 with 13 rounds of .380 hollow points. Plenty of firepower to deter a street thug, since they are basically bullies and cowards anyway. But I didn’t feel I had enough firepower to hold off a hate-filled islamic jihadist hell-bent on dying for their cause.
A New Gun – Springfield Arms XD Mod.2
First I thought about the guns I already owned. Would any of those provide me a better solution than my SIG? I started carrying my Khar K9 again. I took it to the gun range to fire off a few rounds and remembered why I didn’t like shooting it. The K9 has a LONG LONG trigger pull, making it difficult for me to reliably group my rounds where I felt they needed to be. An all steel design made it a bit heavy but not unmanageably so. The main reason I wasn’t wild about the K9 was it only held 9+1 rounds – better than the SIG, but the three extra rounds was not enough of a benefit to outweigh my dislikes. So I kept looking.
My next thought turned to an AR pistol. I liked that it would carry 30 rounds and could easily and quickly be reloaded with an additional 30 rounds. But AR pistols are certainly not concealed carry weapons and instead would be relegated to a “truck gun”. This would be great if I was in or near my truck when and if bad things started to happen, but wouldn’t help if I was in a crowded movie theater, a shopping mall or high school football game when trouble started.
Next I looked at the FN FiveSeven pistol. This was a nice option as it carried 20 rounds of high performance 5.7 ammo, but it was still a big gun and not easily concealed. In addition, the ammo was expensive so practice with the gun would be expensive.
I then shot my friend’s Springfield EMP 9mm pistol and REALLY liked this gun. It is a shrunk down 1911 design that was easily concealed yet was very, very accurate. My groupings when shooting this pistol were very tight and it was a dream to shoot. But it still only help 9+1 rounds and was quite expensive at $1,200. I would love to own one of these guns but it wasn’t what I was looking for at the moment.
Then I saw an advertisement for a Springfield XD Mod 2 pistol. I had shot a Springfield XDM 9mm a couple of years prior and really liked the gun. It was accurate, had a nice trigger pull, and wonderful ergonomics. So I decided to stop by our recently opened Cabela’s and look at one of these pistols.
I was quickly sold on the gun. It carries 13+1 rounds of 9mm Luger in the shortened double-stack magazine and came with an extended grip magazine that holds 16 rounds. That gives me 30 rounds with me at all times – finally enough where I felt I could defend myself against a crazed terrorist. The gun is not all that much bigger than my SIG P238, although as a double-stack gun it is a bit thicker. It is very easy for me to kidney carry and in fact I carried it in my waste band for a couple of weeks with no issues until I was able to make my own holster. Trigger pull is easy and very consistent, although not as nice as a single action pistol like my SIG or an EMP. After a few sessions at the range I had no problems with accurate grouping of my shots, at least for a 3″ barrel pistol. It came with a fiber optic front sight which I really like, and white dot rear sites which I am just OK with. I would prefer glow in the dark night sights but these are workable for now. The gun also came with an easy-to-use magazine loader, a plastic holster and a plastic magazine carrier for my belt. I used both at a recent combat pistol shoot and they worked very well. The magazine loader clips to the magazine holder via a built-in picatinny rail. Nice.
I was a little concerned about the grip and trigger safety system but after a few hundred rounds at the range and a day at the combat pistol competition, those concerns have been allayed – the gun shoots when I point it and pull the trigger, without having to remember to click a safety off. I had gotten used to a manual safety with my SIG P-238 but after a recent pheasant hunting trip to South Dakota, I realized that if I have trouble remembering to turn off a safety when birds are flushing, I might have trouble remembering to click a safety off when bullets are flying. I like having a safety and now I feel the Springfield XD safety is a good compromise.
Combat Pistol Competition
As part of my concern and worry about terrorists, I knew that just getting a new gun wasn’t going to ease my fears. I also wanted to train with my new pistol so that I felt comfortable deploying it quickly and safely if needed. First I went to the range to get a feel for the gun. My next step was to attend a USPSA combat pistol competition so that I could practice with the gun in more realistic conditions. Although not as good as police or military shoot/no shoot training, it was the best training and practice I could get easily and locally. I gathered up a few friends and went the the OKC Gun Club’s monthly combat pistol shooting contest in early January. The gun shot very well and was easy to use and deploy. Long shots on steel were a bit of a challenge but I was able to knock them all down by focusing on my aim point and using good technique to steady my gun. Double taps on paper targets were fairly easy as the recoil was minimal. I had two 16 rounds magazines and one 13 round so I would use the 13 round first to simulate the magazine and gun I would carry, then reload with the 16 round on the move. The only difference between the competition and my normal carry is I used an outside the waste and holster for the competition (required) while I normally carry IWB. I also shot ball ammo versus hollow points.
Overall I am very pleased with the Springfield XD Mod 2 in 9mm. It provides me with a gun that is very easy to conceal carry, is accurate and easy to deploy, provide me with 30 rounds of ammo I can easily carry in my pockets, and didn’t cost a fortune to purchase or shoot during practice. The gun has yet to misfire after well over 2,000 rounds down the pipe. I like the accessory rail and the ergonomics are darn near perfect for me. Overall I am very pleased with my choice.
Update – Six Months Later
I have now carried my Springfield XD Mod 2 for six months and thought I would provide an update to readers. You know how sometimes you think something will be great, but then after a few months you figure out the warts and start to figure out what you don’t like about it?
Not with this gun. After six months and a few thousand rounds I absolutely LOVE my Springfield XD Mod 2. Love it. I enjoy carrying it every day, I enjoy training with it, and I haven’t had any problem concealing the gun even during the hot summer months.
When I first got the gun I had problems trying to find a concealed carry holster that was comfortable and would hold the gun securely. I bought several holsters and wasn’t happy, then decided to make my own. I wasn’t all that happy with my own design. Finally I started just carrying this gun in my wasteband without a holster. I liked this for quite some time and was very comfortable carrying this way, but felt the gun wasn’t quite as secure as I would like. I had to constantly check to make sure it was in place and hadn’t moved around. Not a huge deal and the gun just disappeared behind my untucked shirt, but at times it would jiggle around when running or moving fast or kneeling down while doing a photo shoot.
Finally I decided to modify one of my purchased holsters to fit my needs. I am quite familiar working with leather so I just replaced a few parts, changed out some leather, and finally got the holster designed how I wanted. It took me a couple of weeks to get used to the holster but now I much prefer to holster carry. The gun is much easier to draw from a holster and much more secure. I can basically forget about the gun most times, safe in knowing it is right where I want it and hasn’t moved around, yet I can quickly present it if needed.
Training and an XD Mod 2 with 4″ barrel
I am a big believer in training with the pistol I carry every day. I also like to shoot USPSA combat pistol courses. I tried shooting a couple of USPSA competitions with my XD Mod 2 but man, it was really hard to hit steel targets 35 yards or further away with the short 3″ barrel. I could get it done but had to really concentrate on my aim and a steady pull, slowing me down in competition.
Then at SHOT show this year Springfield announced their XD Mod 2 Service model with a 4″ barrel. It was nearly identical to my carry gun except that it had a 4″ barrel and a full-sized grip – the same size grip as my XD with a 16 round magazine installed. It is basically a Glock 19 with a Springfield design.
YEA! I could use this gun to train and compete with, and all the functions, handling and feel was identical to my 3″ XD Mod 2. It even took the same 16 round magazines (13 rounds mags only fit the smaller pistol).
Another benefit is that the slightly bigger XD Mod 2 Service Pistol could also fit my holster. It obviously has a longer barrel and longer grip, but fits nicely in my holster and is easy to carry. I plan to carry it during the winter when I have bigger clothes, basically just for fun.
UPDATE Summer 2017
I have now been carrying my XD Mod 2 for well over a year. Love, love, love this pistol. I now have one pistol with the 3″ barrel that is my carry gun, and two pistols with 4″ barrels that go in my two trucks. I can train regularly with the 4″ model and feel comfortable in competition. The feel and movement is the same as the 3″ model which I carry daily. I still carry my SIG P238 when I wear workout shorts or on my mountain bike, when weight is an issue, but for the most part I carry my Springfield XD Mod 2 on a daily basis and am VERY happy with my selection.
So overall I have been EXTREMELY pleased with my choice of the Springfield XD Mod 2 as my daily carry pistol. It works flawlessly, is one of the best handling and ergonomics of any pistol I have used short of a full on 1911, and offers plenty of firepower if needed. I can use all the same magazines between my carry and training pistol and my training with the bigger gun carries right over to the smaller gun.
Great job Springfield Arms. Thank you very much.