one good widget.

At the Northeast Blogger Meet a few days back, I talked to a fellow blogger who assumed that since I talk about guns a lot, and seem to know quite a bit about them (fooled him!), I must have a gun collection to rival Jay’s Clown Car gun safe.  I told him that in reality, I actually only own six guns in total: three centerfire handguns, one .22 handgun, one bolt-action rifle (the Enfield No.4), and an ancient single-shot .22 rifle.  I also told him that on the flipside, I’m really good with the few guns I do have.  The 3” K-frame, in particular, has been my carry gun of choice for half a decade now, and my hands just know what to do with it pretty much automatically. 

That got me to thinking about how much of what we accumulate is “need”, and how much of it is “nice to have”.  If I had to limit myself to only one gun, I have no doubt that I’d keep one of the 3” K-frames, simply because I’m more comfortable with it than with any other gun.  On the same note, I own a dozen good fountain pens, but if I had to pick only one, I wouldn’t be too awfully troubled, because I found the kind that fits my hand the best. 

Of course, the beauty of living in a free country with a semi-free market is that we don’t have to limit ourselves, but some voluntary self-limitation—going back to the essentials, so to speak—can actually improve performance, whether you’re talking about shooting, writing, or what-have-you.  With carry guns in particular, settling on one choice and getting good with it means you don’t have to think too much in a high-stress situation.  Am I carrying the 1911 or the Glock today?  Do I have a manual safety? Is it engaged?  Am I wearing the holster with or without the thumb break?  If you carry the same gun in the same rig in the same spot on your body every day, then those concerns are out of the picture.  You know what you have, you know how it works, and you’ve practiced with it so much that you can draw the thing and put two rounds through the center of the target even when half asleep or under stress.

What about you?  If you carry a gun, do you carry the same thing in the same manner all the time?  And if so, what’s your iron of choice—the one you’d keep if you limited yourself to just one?


38 thoughts on “one good widget.

  1. My problem is that I have more sentimental attachment to certain guns that wouldn’t make sense as “only guns”… but then again, I love collecting guns even if they don’t get shot much. If you start talking about what practical guns you “need”, I’d grab my Glock and a my Mossberg 500. The Mossberg is good for self defense to acquiring food. The Glock is good for whenever I don’t have the Mossberg. I practice a lot with both of them, and I shoot them both relatively well.

    The thing is, I don’t have much love for either the Glock or the Mossberg. I wouldn’t cry if I had to sell them, or if they were stolen, or destroyed in a fire. I’d replace them and move on.

    The loss of my grandfather’s cheap old single-shot Sears shotgun or my uncle’s old .30-06, however, would tear me up.

  2. JD says:

    I would have to go with my Markarov .380. It is easy to carry, I have had it the longest so am most comfortable with it, and it is accurate. what else can you ask for???

  3. Jay G. says:

    Heh. “Clown car gun safe”…

    I suspect that much of my trouble insofar as “minute-of-berm” stems from my gun ADD. I love ’em all, and want to shoot them all, and as a result, wind up shooting a lot of guns very little.

    The guns that I do shoot a lot – like the S&W model 17 – I’m pretty damned good with (Notice AD didn’t have anything to say about me ringing the steel plates with the M17 at the shoot…)

    My guns are like my children, man. I can’t call one a favorite, and I can’t get rid of ’em without government intervention. Wait, that’s not quite right…

  4. Leit says:

    In sunny south africa we have a licensing system that takes forever to issue a license, and limits the number of licenses you can have. As such, I own one gun, and by the time I was allowed to take it home from the store I’d been shooting it at the store’s range for over a year. It’s always carried the same way. Very much used to it.

    With other handguns I can perform adequately. With my own I can perform miracles. Weeeeeelllll, not quite, but close enough for government work. 😀

  5. cybrus says:

    I, too, only have a few firearms. More than I “need” but definitely less than I’d like to have.

    If I had to keep only one, I’d keep my XD45. It’s the only gun I carry (and I carry it every day) and it just fits me. I’ve got two holsters for it – a CompTac CTAC for normal use and a SmartCarry for use with dress pants at work.

  6. pdb says:

    I’ve gotten over the “Gotta catch ’em all!” impulse and now buy guns to duplicate or upgrade what I already have. On the shopping list for this year are backup G19s, a flat top AR carbine with red dot (to replace my current AR which has morphed into a LBJ era A1ish rifle) and possibly a duplicate of my social 1100 or Beretta 1201.

    I do think it’s a good idea for the amateur gun person to know and understand how to work the major handgun food groups (DA revolver, 1911, traditional DA/SA and Glocklike), but I try hard to carry the same thing, in the same place, every day. I do alternate to my 1911 for open carry or dressy occasions, but since the manual of arms is close enough to the Glock (because the safety gets deactivated with the assumption of the firing grip) that I’m confident with it.

  7. Blackwing1 says:

    I’ve been carrying the same Sprinfield MicroCompact 1911A1 (.45 ACP) in the same Don Hume IWB for (mumblety-mumblety) years. I rarely switch off to a Galco shoulder rig for the same pistol, but only when I’m in a truck for a long time, or my hip hurts.

    But I’d have to say that wouldn’t be the “one” pistol I’d choose, if I had to. That would be my old, beat up Springfield full-size that I found used, where somebody had done a fair job of customizing (before “custom” became “standard” on 1911’s). It’s just that the Micro is so much easier to carry on a regular basis, that’s all.

    For years, the only firearm I owned was my 12-gauge Mossberg 500 with a 28″ straight tube. It was my duck gun, my goose gun, my deer gun, my home-defense gun, my small-game gun, my grouse gun, my pheasant gun…you get the idea. I guess if I had to give everything else up for one firearm, that would still be it. Of course, I’d try to bend the rules by keeping three different barrels for it, with an 18″ close-in use and a 24″ rifled-with-sights version.

  8. SemperGumby says:

    I like pdb’s point about being familiar with many types of firearms. One thing I saw during my time in the Marine Corps is guys getting very familiar and proficient with just a handful of standard issue weapons but having no idea of what to do with anything else. in Iraq captured weapons varied widely beyond the standard AK and having a broad knowledge of firearms was helpful in order to handle them safely.

    I cannot afford to buy every gun that I take a fancy to and so have accumulated few since I turned 18. I have two Glocks, a 19 and a 26, that I can carry in the same holsters at the same locations on my body, function identically, and have redundancy in ammo and magazines. An AR and Mossberg 590 fill out my “practical gun” quiver and I have a .22 rifle and a couple long barreled shotguns from my days of shooting skeet in college. I shoot the Glocks a lot, the AR relatively often and the other guns rarely; basically in priority of usefulness and daily carry with my limited range time.

    I couldn’t imagine switching between firearms for daily carry. I know how important muscle memory is under stress and how difficult it can be to achieve or alter. Just makes sense to pick what works and stick with it…


  9. aczarnowski says:

    There’s a lot of truth to the “beware the man with one gun” adage. Yes, the majority of boomy items in my procession are because I wanted, instead of needed, them. It’s just a specific case of the consumerism issues a lot of people are having in affluent places. I’ve recognized a rise in “declutter your life” evangelists to match and heard their call a bit myself.

    If I had to have just one, it’d probably be my SP101 in 357. It’s a safe queen today because I have other tools that fit my CCW need better; I carry a gun a lot more than I do anything else with a gun. But if I had to cover all the bases, a midsized revolver it a bigger cartridge would be it for me.

    Daily carry for the past couple years is my PM9. Mostly in a back pocket holster, but more and more IWB in a CrossBreed super tucker. I should definitely practice with it more. But like Jay G, I feel bad about not giving all the others some range time.

  10. Wally says:

    After finding one carry gun that really worked for me (Kahr P9), I stuck with the same manual of arms & same holster brand/style (Galco USA/UDC) for subsequent carry pieces (Glock 23, then 32).

    Repeatability is a huge factor in being able to improve.

    As to only one gun? The G32 is quite acceptable for CCW. I could see upgrading to a newer G32 with the RTF2 textured frame. But I am glad this is just a hypothetical question. My only one-gun limit is a self imposed one – one gun per visit to the funstore!

  11. Dr. Feelgood says:

    Daily carry is a CZ P-01, IWB. Decocker only so no safety to fuss with. It’s my “One Gun.” Wife’s house gun is an old S&W 39-2. Also have one shotgun, Ithaca 37 (birds); one lever gun, Win 94 thutty-thutty (game), and one .22 boltie (critters). The only real void is an AR (homeland invaders). Once that basic group is complete I’ll focus on redundancy–replacing the S&W with another P-01 or a PCR, for instance.

    As far as wants go, I frequently daydream about an F-Class rifle in .308, just for fun. I also strongly desire a 1911 (stainless commander, if you please). Everything else tickles my fancy, but doesn’t inspire full-on gun lust.

  12. Reese says:

    My daily carry is an XD 45 Compact in a Galco Summer Comfort IWB.

    But if I had to keep only one handgun, I might have to choose my 4″ 686.

  13. Kaerius(SWE) says:

    I’d probably opt for a single-stack 1911 of some sort or other in .45, my one concession to summer ease of carry would most likely be a commander frame(but still possibly one with a full length barrel). I’d just couple it with an investment in good holsters.

    If I ever move over to your side of the pond, I’ll definitely get something like that, and when finances allow, run it through clark custom, meltdown and the works.

  14. I can only carry out of state (the downside of living in Commiefornia), and my carry depends on weather – if it’s cold enough to wear some sort of jacket – CZ75B .40 in IWB. If it’s too warm – Bersa .380 in pocket holster. Would be really difficult to chose only one to keep, each fits a particular need, but if I really had to, I would keep the CZ.

  15. Boat Guy says:

    I’m probably more like Reese in that my usual carry gun is an XD in .45, carried strong side in Kydex, but if I only had one (shudder) handgun it would be a Magnum revolver; either my mid-60’s production Model 27 5″ (My “Skeeter Skelton gun”) or my 4″ Redhawk for their versatility.
    I do occasionally carry other pieces both wheelguns and selfloaders; the wheelguns are usually clip-fed .45s (TR Model 22 or a PC 625) worn crossdraw for comfort on the trail – unfortunately the spare auto mags tend to chafe my too-slowly-receding “belt overhang” if I’m hiking. Spare clips reside in the Dillon spring steel goodies. Other carry autos (always strong side) are either 1911 or SIG 226 (if I have to go 9mm for Govt-supplied ammo).
    Carrying the different systems in different manners helps me remember the different handling and reload characteristics.
    Ironically those “one-and-only” revolvers are the exceptions to the preceding; the Redhawk is carried in an Alaskan chest-rig and the Model 27 in a Bianchi holster-belt combination that Skeeter favored.

  16. Sailorcurt says:

    I agree with your premise, but I do have two carry guns.

    I like to carry as much gun as is practical, so in the winter when I can wear a heavy coat, or when I’m open carrying in the summer, I carry a 1911.

    In the summer when I’m concealed, however…or in the winter when I’m going somewhere that I’ll need to take off my coat and want to stay concealed…I carry my CZ-82.

    The holsters are different (Crossbreed Supertuck IWB for CZ-82 and Blackhawk Serpa for the 1911) and that concerns me a little about reaction time under duress, but the gun’s controls are identical enough in location and operation that I don’t worry too much about fumbling in that regard.

    Your thoughts about using one gun well are spot-on in my humble opinion though.

    I do have a small collection and I shoot most of them pretty regularly at least a little bit, but my focus is on being as good as I can be with the two that I carry.

  17. Rick R. says:

    If limited to one, and only one gun, I’d stick with the 3″ K-fram M65 (.357 Magnum, to non-S&W wheelgun types).

    Although, if I had to get rid of ALL my guns and then buy only ONE replacement, it would likely be a 4″ M65, just becuase the sight radius would make it that much more versatile.

    While there are many situations where I’d prefer a different gun for minor advantage, there is none in my life where a traditional mid frame service caliber revolver will do POORLY.

  18. Gerry N. says:

    I own about 40 guns, 10 being handguns. about ten of the 40 are muzzleloaders, no ML revolvers.

    My carry piece is a 4″ Taurus M92 .38 spec. in a cheap Uncle Mike’s nylon holster. There is no sense having an expensive rig as I’m overweight, out of shape, and nothing’s going to change except by miracle. On the other hand, I carry concealed so quick draw is pretty subjective. I’m 65 and in 44 years of carrying, I’ve had to pull my gun twice and have yet to fire it. The first time was in E. Wash. in the early 70’s on a fishing trip. Three Spanish speaking youths wanted me to finance their road trip by handing over my wallet. I showed them my pistol instead. They remembered a previous engagement. The other time was Christmastime a year ago. Four melanin enhanced youths with funny accents and skull caps at the mall thought I might like to contribute the contents of my wallet to their entertainment accounts. One showed me his knife. I showed him my Taurus. When I cocked it the clicks seemed to trigger a memory of a previous very important engagement.

    Both times I reported the incidents to the local authorities. The Sherriff in E. Wash. approved of my handling of the situation. The W. Wash. Policemen did not, they told me I was a vigilante. I told them no, I was a dangerous victim, a very different critter, but had any of those young thugs even blinked I’d have shot some of them.

    Gerry N.

  19. Bill Johnson says:

    My problem is I’m indecisive. Do I keep the Beretta 92FS, for which every american soldier will have ammo for my refilling? Do I keep the Beretta Tomcat .32 – the loudest mouse that roared (and concealable)? Do I keep the .40 Glock, on the premise that, like an AK, it will always fire? And how can I part with the 7.65×54 SKS rifle and scope? Or the Moisin-Nagant, shoots the same cartridge, with which I am well endowed?

    Being currently unemployed, and hurting for money, the answer is:

    I’m keeping them all. I’ll need them this year, when the country collapses.

  20. Bill Johnson says:

    darn, I forgot about the p^$ and PA-63 – the makarov twins 🙂

  21. Bill Johnson says:

    that would be P64 and PA-63. One beer over the line, sweet jesus, one beer over the line.

  22. Chris says:

    Tough call.

    For over a year now, almost all of my carry has been with a S&W 640-1, loaded with 5 135-grain .357 Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel PP rounds in a pocket holster, usually on the weak side. I know I can get good hits out to 8 or 10 yards with that combo.

    But given a choice, well, damn. I shoot bowling pins with a Sig P229 in .40 in the stock class, and I run that gun very well, and regularly in the money. My 6″ 586 (poor, married man’s Python) always feels right in my hand, as do my 4″ K-frames. I will never give up my weird love of .41 Magnum in N-frames. For autochuckers, I like my other .40’s, especially my FNP and my Brigadier 96, especially with the companion CX4 Storm.

    We won’t even get into the rifles.

    Still, if the glaciers overrun me tomorrow (possible here in MN this winter), and you thawed my out in the microwave 20 years from now, I still bet I could cut the X-ring out of a target before what’s left of my hair stopped dripping if you dropped my Glock 19C into my hands. I almost feel bad saying it, but that hunk of plastic and steel just shoots so right for me that it isn’t even funny, despite the fact that I have always done my quals and practiced more heavily with something else.

  23. Chris Rhines says:

    For such an obsessive shooting nerd, I don’t have too many guns. I have my 3-gun rifle, shotgun, and pistol, a backup AR more geared more towards the social side of things, two identical carry pistols that I also compete with, a .22LR pistol and carbine. They all get shot, all the time. I do have a few safe queens, prizes I haven’t sold off or relics of a gun game I no longer play. Probably a dozen guns, all told.

    When I carry, I carry the same pistol in the same place, always. M&P 9mm full-size in a kydex AIWB holster. My game rig puts the holster in just about the same spot.

    I don’t worry too much about the man with only one gun – he probably bought that gun for self defense, ran a box of ammo through it, tossed it in the nightstand, and forgot about it. I worry about the guy with two or three identical guns, all of them well-worn.

  24. Al T. says:

    One thing I do that I think is wise (picked up from another shooter) is to have multiples of select guns. I have several full size CC handguns – all the same model. If one is unavailable for what ever reason, it’s twin is in the safe.

  25. og says:

    If I had to limit myself to one gun it would have to be a small carbine, either a 44 mag levergun or an M1. I have a lot of firearms I like a lot more, but for utilities sake, the carbine gives some reach, and the ammo weighs less and takes up less space.

  26. eric says:

    I carry as part of my job. My duty guns have all been DA/SA. Coming from the Army I had an affinity for 1911 pistols. After a few years of constantly shooting my duty guns I found that every time I went to the range with my Springfield 1911s, the first shot out of the holster I failed to sweep off the safety. It became a habit I could not break. The only solution was to rid myself of all my 1911s and replace them with revolvers and DA/SA or DA only pistols. I can go back and forth between my Glocks and Sigs and even my Redhawk with no issues but my days of SA only are past.
    If I had to limit myself to a single firearm I’d keep one of my levers, probably the Winchester 94 in 30-30. Maybe the Marlin in 45-70. 1 handgun? The Redhawk.

  27. Dave says:

    I carry a Glock 19 in a homemade IWB hybrid holster. All day, every day.

  28. BryanP says:

    I recently bought a smallish safe (fits in the back of my walk-in closet). I’ve made myself a solid rule: I have to get the accumulation down to what I can fit in this thing. Which means I need to sell a few.

    My equivalent to your K frame is a 3″ Ruger SP101. My normal carry is a pocket-carry S&W 649, and I’m playing with a PM9. If I *had* to drop to a single gun it would probably be the SP101.

    Fortunately I don’t have to. 🙂

  29. Stephen says:

    G27 w/ G23 spare mag. Absolutely Always and Only. Same situation w/ my wife and her G19. She doesn’t know much about guns, but she sure can run that Glock. Our whole family operates this way.

  30. Stephen says:

    BTW,,,,, Does anyone else find it ironic that some of the replies to this article embody the very antithesis of it’s point!

  31. wrm says:

    My Taurus 357 wheelgun that I’ve had (and carried) for 15 years or so. Exactly for the same reason, it fits me, I fit it, and I can hit things with it.

    After lots of hard work my gunsafe is becoming worthy of your “clown car” analogy 🙂 and I’ve taken to carrying an Astra 6 shot 38 Special snubby when I dress light (say, a T-shirt, no jacket, it’s summer here).

    For me, the one gun is a revolver and the one caliber is 357.

  32. v says:

    after 4 decades of shooting the only pistols i kept were 2 H&K P2K’s in 40sw and a single action 22 for plinking …
    all the 1911’s S&W’s Colts rugers etc went away…
    kept a mossberg 590 12 ga and thats it, the hunting been destroyed by our DFG so no need for a rifle anymore…
    the H&K’s do what i need in a handgun and are reliable and worry free…
    one is lem and the other is da/sa , no problem switching between them , its become an automatic reflex when i pick each one up i don’t even have to think , the MoA is so ingrained for each one…
    practice, practice, practice…

  33. TJ says:

    G23 w/KKM barrel, 3.5 connector, and Trijicons in kydex IWB.

  34. mike w. says:

    All of my carry guns are DAO or DA/SA with no manual safety. It makes for a simple manual of arms. I fear that if I were to buy a 1911 or other SAO gun right now and start carrying it I’d forget to sweep off the safety under stress.

    On the very rare occasion that I carry the Bersa I leave the manual safety off and treat it just like the Sigs.

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