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AN EFFECTIVE TUCKABLE HOLSTER: What to Look For

There are some great holster companies that are making an effective tuckable holster options out there today.

Unfortunately there are a lot more holster makers that have some lackluster offerings. Many of these are just a regular IWB holster that has some tuckable element bolted on to it, without any consideration for the needs of the wearer.

I mean let’s be honest, most of them probably only have to wear a tucked in shirt for maybe 5-10 days out of the year MAX. That leads to an incomplete understanding of the needs of the end-user.

For years I was on a hunt for a truly discreet tuckable option, only to be met with visible belt loops and a chorus of “nobody notices anyways!”

TOP 5 ELEMENTS OF AN EFFECTIVE TUCKABLE HOLSTER

Once I discovered Discreet Carry Concepts clips, my search was over! Since then I’ve found the perfect balance of attributes that when combined create a solution that’s greater than the sum of its parts. So here’s what you want to look for:

1) A QUALITY HOLSTER BODY

There’s plenty of folks out there making great holster shells. Some offer more turn-key solutions than others, but I’ve personally had great luck with the following:
Keepers Concealment
Dark Star Gear
KSG Armory
Tenicor
PHLster

These also come very highly recommended from friends in the industry I trust and respect:
JM Custom Kydex
Henry Holsters
Holster Company
Bawidamann
(This is not necessarily a comprehensive list, so apologies for anyone unintentionally omitted)

2) A CLAW

Most manufacturers choose a bolt-on solution that allows the user to customize it. Some like Keepers and Tenicor mold the claw into the holster body to maximize the balance between the various attachments. There’s no single best solution, since everyone’s built differently. The amount of grip rotation you’ll require to maximize concealment will very much be individualized.

3) A HOLSTER THAT’S LONG ENOUGH

Jon Hauptman does a great video on The Keel Principle, explaining why a longer muzzle improves concealment. The grip is the heaviest part of the pistol, and it’s also the part that’s the least contained. More real estate BELOW the belt line helps leverage the grip into the body and keep it from tipping out.

4) A WEDGE/MUZZLE PAD

As with the claw, some makers give the end-user the option to add, remove, and customize. Some mold the muzzle pad into the holster body, to create not only leverage but more grip rotation. You’ll have to see which one works best for you.

5) DISCREET CARRY CONCEPTS CLIPS

These are really the secret ingredient This is where the magic happens. Everything else listed above is a great IWB holster, but without a suitably low profile attachment method, The 2.1 and 4.1 clips specifically are designed to attach to the waistband of the pants, and be hidden by the belt. Adding these to an existing holster will likely solve whatever concealment problem you’re having.

The CZ Hammer Classic – Dropping Hammers

As a shotgun nut, I have an appreciation for basically all types of shotguns. Do I think Winchester made a mistake in making a lever action shotgun instead of listening to Browning and making a slide action? Yep, but I still like the 1887 lever action shotgun. I have a particular fondness for side-by-side double-barrel shotguns. I’m not sure where the appeal comes from, but the style, design, and the throwback to the American West. CZ is known for great rifles, awesome handguns, and now the CZ Hammer Classic. 

Although, to be fair, these double-barrel shotguns are built in Turkey. I’m typically cautious with Turkish shotguns, but if a major, reputable company imports them, I’m willing to give them a try. The CZ Hammer classic fills this particular niche of shotguns that’s largely underserved. There are quite a few side-by-side coach guns out there, but long-barreled, side-by-side double-barrel shotguns with rabbit ear hammers aren’t quite common. 

When these guns are produced, they tend to be extremely expensive, but with CZ having these guns made in Turkey, the price drops significantly. For less than a grand, you can have a true classic in your hands. 

The CZ Hammer Classic – The Niche Shotgun 

The Hammer Classic mixes 30-inch barrels and a dual hammer design with 12 gauge power. This was the type of gun that largely dominated the cartridge shotgun era from the mid-1800s. These hammer-fired side-by-side shotguns remained popular enough to stay in service well into the era of boxlocks and even pump action shotguns. 

The Hammer Classic has two fully functional hammers, with each hammer paired with a trigger. It’s possible to cock both and fire both if you have the gall or a light enough loaded cartridge. A tang safety provides you with a manual option for ensuring the hammer’s lock to the rear. A tang-mounted barrel latch is also present. 

The wood furniture on the gun is quite nice. Nicer than it has any real right to be. It’s medium dark and finely textured. Overall, it’s impressive, especially for a fairly budget-minded shotgun. The finish is a classic hardened look, and it extends to the receiver, the barrels, and even the butt pad. Oh, and there is no rubber, just a metal butt pad, as if the gun was made when Cleveland was still president. 

Overall, the gun looks amazing. It’s a fairly niche gun. What’s the purpose of a hammer-fired shotgun these days? It’s a bit slow for skeet unless you run both hammers to the rear as you shoot. It could be used for hunting, but there are admittedly better options. What’s the purpose? For me, it’s to fill that niche of because I want it. I want it, and I want a rabbit-eared shotgun with long barrels and a fine finish. I might not be the king of England with a Parker, but I can feel like one. 

Give ‘Em Both Barrels 

The CZ Hammer Classic needs a break-in. Not in terms of reliability but in terms of the action opening, the safety sliding, and the general movements. The gun must have some healthy tolerances. The barrel release is stiff and needs a good press, the barrel opening is stiff and needs to be pulled, and the safety takes a dedicated press. It’s all stiff at first. 

After a few uses, it loosens up rather well. You can just walk the gun through the dry fire practice, and it will loosen up pretty quickly. A little range time loosens it up nicely. At the range, the CZ Hammer Classic performs like an old car. It’s not as efficient or as fancy, but there is a charm and quality to it. 

Pulling back the hammers feels amazing, and they have an overly satisfying click when pulled to the rear. The triggers are ultra-light and respond to a slight bit of pressure, and the hammers drop, the weapon fires, and you’re ready to do it again. The controls are all easy to reach with one thumb, and it’s super easy to reach and access. 

The Punch

The gun recoils with a stiff push to the shoulder, and it has no give. The lack of a recoil pad is felt as the steel gives you that punch. Reduced recoil rounds or a slip-on recoil pad make it comfier if you plan to be a high-volume shooter. The CZ Hammer Classic isn’t necessarily a soft shooter, and for the first dozen rounds, it’s not bad, but you’ll feel it, and fatigue will set in quicker than with more modern guns. 

The patterns proved to be adequate and fairly tight. A basic load of Winchester buckshot was patterned at about 8 inches at 15 yards. Slugs were surprisingly accurate, and at 25 yards, I was keeping them in a tight touching group. The only sight is a big white bead that sits at the end of the barrels. The long 30-inch barrels certainly give you a long enough sight radius. 

The gun always went bang. Every round fired and ejected without an issue. Some of the testing involved mini shells, which resulted in a very nice recoil experience. The mini slugs, in particular, were adorably fun to shoot. 

The Hammer Fired 

The CZ Hammer Classic was a ton of fun to shoot and, honestly, a beautiful gun. It’s a pure-range gun for me, but it’s one of my favorites. It’s a throwback to an older era of shotguns that may have aged out of usefulness but haven’t aged out of coolness. 

Gunday Brunch 139: Fudd Lore Busting

Today the boys are back and they’re busting some more gun myths, or as Keith calls them, “Fudd Tzu memes”

Production Is Back!

USPSA Production Division To Allow 15 Round Mag Capacity

Cover Image: A Beretta 92X Performance and a chrome Canik Rival-S SFx next to 15 rounds of Federal Syntech 9mm. Both of these guns are ideal for USPSA Production division as they come from the factory.

At the tail end of 2023, board members of the USPSA voted to allow participants in its Production division to carry 15 rounds in their magazines starting February 1, 2024. This is a welcome change that not only will breathe new life into this waning competitive class, but also bring this United States based division more in-line with the rules of the international level IPSC Production division, where the magazine capacity has always been set at 15 rounds.

PRODUCTION IS BACK

For the longest time, magazine capacity in the Production division has been limited to ten rounds. The ten round limit stems from this class’ inception during the US Assault Weapons Ban, where all new guns sold were arbitrarily capped with a 10 round magazine limit. Funny enough, it wasn’t that long ago that this division was still a smoking-hot category with a lot of skilled shooters competing at the highest levels. It was one of the the most popular categories for weekend match shooters, as nearly all modern pistols will qualify. There’s several competition oriented handguns that were borne out of this division like the Tanfoglio Stock II, the CZ Shadow 2, the Glock 34, etc. that still remain cult classics today. And some of these still live on in the USPSA Carry Optics division.

CARRY OPTICS DIVISION

The USPSA Production division’s issue isn’t even necessarily that it was limited to ten rounds. It stems from the surge in dotted handguns’ popularity that also caused a paradigm shift in stage designs.The rise in popularity of the pistol mounted reflex sight along with the rise of the Carry Optics division cast the original USPSA Production division aside. Not only did all the high level competitors flock to the dots, so did the weekend warriors and many regular gun owners too.

The Carry Optics division itself doesn’t have a hard magazine capacity limit. Instead, like the Limited division, it specifies that a pistol’s magazine may not be longer than 141.25mm. The end result is that competitive guns’ magazines hold over 20 rounds of 9mm, with most being able to fit 22-24 rounds. The same also applies to both Limited and Limited Optics divisions, and since these divisions currently represent the most popular categories at matches in general, it’s easy to see why stages are set up in their favor. Divisions like PCC (pistol caliber carbine) or Open both allow for even higher magazine capacities is only more the reason for stages to be biased in favor of high round counts.

MORE PLEASE

Until the recent decision to increase the Production magazine capacity limit to 15 rounds, for many of us who wanted to keep shooting stock handguns without being inconvenienced too much, the obvious solution was to simply sign up and participate under the Limited [minor] division and just load those factory magazines to their standard 17-18 round capacity. I can speak only for myself in that I only shoot matches for fun and enjoyment. I knew that regardless of equipment, I wasn’t going to be winning any matches at my club any time soon. So I didn’t care as I was just looking to shoot with the least amount of hassle.

From a different perspective, it does seem absurd for those wishing to compete with stock equipment to have to do so in the same division as honest-to-God raceguns. A stock factory Glock 19 vs. a tuned Staccato XL? It was either that, or just sucking it up and reloading a lot. But it gets old and starts to become a chore. For new competitors, there’s more important skills to focus on that merely reloading left and right.

By increasing the capacity by an additional five rounds, the Production division will shift back to its original spirit of focusing around stock equipment. Besides getting in touch with its roots, those extra five rounds mean navigating stages set up for Carry Optics and Limited guns with less hassle, for experienced and new shooters alike. It’s a reasonable decision in the right direction.

The Fiocchi Forbidden Load – Accidentally Awesome

I’ve had pretty good luck with Fiocchi Defense Dynamics buckshot. It’s been a solid defensive buckshot load that’s pretty dang cheap. Recently, I watched a video by Demonstrated Concepts LLC regarding a Fiocchi load of buckshot that Fiocchi might have made an oopsie with. They have a pretty standard nine-pellet 00 buckshot load. The problem there is that they loaded the shells with nine pellets of No.1 buckshot. 

This could be a mistaken run. I have had a lot of experience with Defense Dynamics, and I have half a case of the standard 00 buckshot. It works great and is just a standard 00 buckshot. Rhett of Demonstrated Concepts dissected the No. 1 load and weighed and measured the pellets. 

They were somewhere between .30 and .29 caliber. Fiocchi is now openly admitting that this is a Number 1 load, even though the box clearly states it’s a 00 load. This has sent retailers like Midway in a bit of a spin, and they’ve clearanced the load, so I pick up 500 rounds just because. 

The Fiocchi Forbidden Load – Why

Why buy someone else’s mistake? Mostly because this load will result in very low recoil. A nine-pellet No. 1 load at 1,250 feet per second promises to be a pretty awesome low-recoiling load. This load is the equivalent of a 20 gauge No. 1 load, so 20 gauge recoil in a 12 gauge platform will prove promising. 

I like shooting PGO 12 gauges like the Remington TAC-14 and the Mossberg Shockwave, but obviously, the recoil is a bit intense. This load seemed to be the perfect food for the Shockwave and TAC-14, as well as a general low-recoiling, high-performing round. This Fiocchi load seems to be defined by the blue semi-transparent hull. My true 00 Defense Dynamics load is a clear, transparent design. 

You can tell there is some extra room in the hull by how deep the crimp goes downward. It’s a bit of a waste of space. They could have trimmed the shell a bit and taken up less tube space, and maybe we could have squeezed one more in. My five-round tube holds exactly five, and with the tube loaded, it was time to shoot. 

Patterning the Load 

I used a TAC-14 with a cylinder bore choke to pattern the load at 10 yards. That was a fair range for the old pirate gun. I used an IPSC A-Zone and fired three rounds at three different targets. At 10 yards, the pattern was contained neatly to the A-Zone. The pattern was roughly the size of my palm. It’s not micro sized like a Flitecontrol round, but it also doesn’t cost 1.50 a round. 

I went back to 15 yards, and the load opened up a bit more. Some pellets leave the A-zone but are a long way from leaving the target entirely. They get into the C-Zone and stay there. While it doesn’t compete with loads like Federal Fltiecontrol, it competes well with premium loads from Remington, Winchester, and other major companies. 

Recoil & Reliability 

The recoil makes shooting the TAC-14 an absolute dream. It’s light and far from brutal. My hand is preserved and saved from the ferocity of the PGO 12 gauge design. That’s being dramatic, as the Raptor grips are fairly soft as far as stockless shotgun options go. The TAC-14 can still feel fierce with the right load, so finding a softer load is always nice. 

The Fiocchi load proved to be quite nice. It’s easy to handle and easy to fire. Hitting two targets with two shots quickly was easy. You can run the gun very quickly, and it’s quite satisfying. The No. 1 load might be smaller than the 00 pellets, but they will penetrate deep enough to stop the threat. No.1 pellets are the smallest pellets capable of consistent and adequate penetration. 

In terms of reliability in a pump gun, there were no problems. It worked fine in the Mossberg 940 and Benelli M4 as well. I don’t have recoil-operated or inertia guns, so I can’t say if they would work well with these shotguns. In the semi-auto designs, it was crazy soft and quite a bit of fun to shoot. 

Get It While The Getting Is Good

If you’re a shotgun nut or fan of the PGO 12 gauge, then grab a case or two. It’s a great load, and it might not be around for long. I say that Fiocchi should make it a standard part of their lineup and even trim it down to 2.5 inches. In my experience, 2.5-inch shells work perfectly in shotguns without the need for adapters and allow for one extra round of ammo. I’m glad I picked up two cases of it. 

The Gunning-Kruger Effect

Right off the bat, let’s go ahead and let me admit I stole the term Gunning-Kruger from a meme page on social media. Yep, I stole it, but it’s clever, and it gave me the idea for this article. The world of firearms has a lot of Dunning-Kruger effects going on. Gunning-Kruger is just a much more clever name for the phenomenon. One of the key tenets of Dunning-Kruger is that some people are overconfident in their skills because they lack the insight to know that they could do better. You don’t know what you don’t know, but you think you know everything. 

That describes a ton of people in the firearms world. Enough so that I think we can adopt Gunning-Kruger to describe the behavior of these people. The more you train, the more you study, and the more you listen to educated sources, the more you realize what you don’t know. Sadly, some people don’t even know where to look for this information and usually don’t even know it exists. While it’s easy to make fun of those people, it’s better that we educate them. 

The best way to point out that people are suffering from Gunning-Kruger is to point out the most common symptoms of the condition, and that’s what we plan to address today. 

I’ve Been Shooting My Whole Life

This is one of the most common excuses, responses, and qualifiers in the world of Gunning-Kruger. It’s often used to excuse poor technique and firearm choice. It’s used as a means to make one’s opinion valid. You’ll hear it a lot from someone who doesn’t know how to shoot well. You can do anything for a long period of time and be bad at it. Without proper instruction and training, you won’t know how bad you are. 

I’ve been shooting for as long as I can remember. I got pretty good at hitting cans with a .22LR and open sights, but that’s about 0.05% of shooting. Introduce timed drills with accuracy standards, and hitting a soda can for fun seems awfully easy. If you’ve been shooting your entire life but can’t score an all-black 10-10-10 drill, then you might want to get training. 

My (Family Member) Was a Cop/Military 

This is another good one. If I had a nickel for everyone who claimed they knew how to shoot because their dad/brother/uncle was in the military or police officer, I’d have enough to pay to send one to a class. Plenty of awesome shooters are or were in the military or law enforcement, but not every military member or police officer knows how to shoot. 

Most might know more than the average bear, but qualing with a service rifle once a year doesn’t make you an expert. Your dad might be a DEVGRU member, and maybe he did teach you how to shoot pretty well, but that’s not most people.

A recruit of Company K, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, aims in on a target 500-yards away at Edson Range aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. Jan. 24. Recruits must become proficient with the rifle and qualify at the firing range during the sixth week of recruit training.

Most soldiers and cops aren’t gun guys, and they might have taught you some basics, but that doesn’t make you an expert shooter. 

If you’ve received instruction from a family member but never saw a shot timer, then it’s likely not the best training. Take that training you’ve gotten and try to shoot a Bill Drill. If you can get it done in under three seconds, then you’ve been well-trained. If not, maybe you should accept you’re suffering from Gunning-Kruger and seek training. 

I Was In The Military 

I, too, have suffered from Gunning-Kruger. When I got out of the Marine Corps in 2013 I thought I was hot stuff. I’d been in gunfights, I shot a ton as an infantryman, and honestly, I had great NCOs and officers who made sure I could do my job. 

I took this to mean I was a fantastic shot, a pro. It turns out my military training might have been great for a military member, but it didn’t prepare me for concealed carry or even home defense all that well.

In the military, you are trained for militaristic combat in most cases. It turns out fire and maneuver doesn’t really apply to civilian self-defense or even police use. Your knowledge of civilian self-defense is pretty low, and being in the military isn’t a valid argument for a radically different mission set. 

Sure, there is some crossover, but military training doesn’t make you an expert, especially when you did one contract and embraced that end-of-service freedom. You might know a thing or two, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek additional training for your new life as a civilian looking to defend themselves. 

Bet You Won’t Stand In Front Of It 

One of the most common symptoms of Gunning-Kruger used to defend poor choices in guns, ammo, and more is the classic, “I bet you won’t stand in front of it.” Yeah, you’re right. I won’t let you shoot with birdshot, but that doesn’t mean it is a great option for home defense. I wouldn’t let you shoot me with a marshmallow gun. That doesn’t make it a good gun for home defense. 

A picture of a Nerf Elite Strike 2
photo credit: Nerf/Hasbro

If this thought is about to cross your mind and make its way to your fingertips for an internet argument, just stop. Take a movement to consider your firearm and have objective, factual data. Post a video of you shooting a FAST Drill and prove them all wrong. Find something written by an expert and present it as evidence. If you can’t defend your choice outside of ‘bet you won’t stand in front of it,’ then maybe you should do more research.

The Gunning-Kruger Days 

I learned a few years ago that shutting up and listening is often the best way to go. You’ll learn a lot more. This goes along with associating with good, knowledgeable people and being willing to be the dumbest one in the room. That’s how you get better and how you learn, and it helps overcome Gunning-Kruger. It’s okay not to be good at something. However, it’s pretty embarrassing not to be good at something but assume you’re an expert. 

The Blackhawk T-Series L2C – The Redeemer?

The Blackhawk SERPA holster might be one of the most controversial pieces of firearm gear ever. I remember being issued one for my Beretta M9 and thinking it was the Bee’s Knees. There was a time when they dominated the polymer holster world because they became undeniable. When Walmart sells your holster, you know you’ve made it to the top or at least dominated it. Yet, the SERPA began a slow and steady downfall and is now largely considered unsafe in the firearms world. That left a permanent stain on Blackhawk’s holster, but can the T-Series L2C redeem its name? 

The SERPA series is famously ridiculed for the push button release on the front of the holster. I remember thinking it was genius because I could release the gun with a natural firing grip. The problem was your finger was in line with the trigger, and downward pressure could continue as you drew the gun and could end with your finger on the trigger with pressure applied. Other problems included crap getting caught behind the trigger release, which made it impossible to free the gun. 

The SERPA was a pile, but Blackhawk released the T-Series, and the world was a bit cautious of it. They released numerous models for numerous guns, and I decided to give one a spin to see if the T-Series L2C would redeem the Blackhawk name in the world of holsters. 

The L2C – Redeeming Blackhawk Holsters 

The Blackhawk L2C is a ‘Level 2’ holster with an active retention device. It’s not the L2D that Blackhawk advertises as a duty holster. This model falls between the need for active retention and duty features. I picked it up for the competitive circuit as a holster I could use for whatever. I’m not competitive enough for my holster to help, and I don’t shoot often enough to improve. 

The L2C offered an active retention option, so I could use one holster for Action Steel, Steel Challenge, Run & Gun, and any other semi-casual competition I wanted to participate in. The simple system makes it attractive for a wide variety of uses. I might want to do the Tactical Games or one of my semi-local Tactical Biatholons, so the active retention might be necessary.  

The holster uses a thumb release that’s pressed inwards to release the active retention system. When you go to draw and assume a good firing grip, your thumb finds the release automatically. As you grip the gun, you pull the lever, which releases your gun. This mechanism keeps things simple and allows you to defeat the retention mechanism without thinking much about it. 

The L2C uses a pair of wings to protect the button so that it’s tough to access unless you’re wearing the gun. An attack from behind or the front will have a hard time pressing the release and accessing the firearm. 

Running and Gunning  

Learning the draw took a little time. Admittedly, going fast will show you problems with your grip. When your thumb painfully hits one of those wings, you realize you weren’t practicing a proper grip on your draw. Pain is a great teacher, and my thumbs hurt enough to teach me that proper grip. With a good grip, the gun is easy to draw and slides smoothly and soundlessly from the holster. 

The L2C gives the gun up without complaint when it’s drawn and allows for a clean and easy draw. In time and with practice, I got my draw down to 1.25 seconds with a hit on a 2-inch circle at 5 yards. With a little more practice, I think I can break the one-second mark. 

The L2C offers a number of different attachment methods. This includes a belt and paddle, as well as a mid-ride attachment with a thigh strap. I went with the mid-ride attachment, and it’s just perfect. There is some room for adjustment to raise and lower the height, but it ended up falling perfectly into that Goldilocks zone for me. 

The L2C is red dot ready, and there are numerous light-bearing options as well. Red dot ready was important to me, and one of the big reasons I went with the L2C was the generous cut to accommodate my SIG ROMEO2. It’s a big optic, so I need a big cut. 

Long Lasting 

I’ve been using this holster for nearly a year with my Sig P320. It’s been my go-to for quite some time and has provided me with a very solid holster system. I’ve yet to run into malfunctions or flaws with the rig. Nothing has come loose, faltered, or failed. And the button seems well protected, unlike the original SERPA design. 

Has Blackhawk been redeemed in the holster world? That’s up for you to decide, but the L2C and the T-Series as a whole seem to be fantastic options for the modern era. 

The Praga Model 1921 – The 1920s CCW

(Gun Wiki)

The Czechs and former Czechoslovakians have a rich history of interesting and dynamic arms design. Weapons like the CZ-75, the BREN gun, and many more came from the minds of Czech and Slovak people. Vaclav Holek was a Czechoslovakian arms designer who lived from 1886 to 1954. He and his brother were prolific arms designers with a long history of patents and lots and lots of work in the world of machine guns after World War I. Between machine gun designs, Holek designed two pistols, one for the military and police, known as the Praga Model 1919, and one aimed at the civilian market, called the Praga Model 21. 

The Praga Model 21 is an odd-looking little gun, and as a fan of pocket pistols and weird designs, I was drawn to the pistol. Its odd look meant I had to dive deep into the Praga Model 21 and learn the story behind this fairly unique-looking little pocket pistol. It turned out to be fairly interesting, but it wasn’t exactly the most successful pistol of its era. 

The Praga Model 21 – One Handed 

The entire design of the Praga Model 21 is based on one-handed operation. The notch at the top of the slide is a groove designed to allow the user’s finger to grip and cock the slide. You might notice a distinct lack of a trigger. Well, the trigger uses a folding design, much like the Colt Patternson, and a folding trigger doesn’t need a stinking trigger guard. The trigger would automatically deploy when the slide reciprocated a few millimeters. 

(VHU)

In the 1920s, it was a common expectation to carry an automatic pistol with an empty chamber. The design process and idea was that a shooter could grip the gun and operate it entirely with a single hand. If you did want to carry the gun cocked and locked, the trigger could be manually folded upward, but you had to retract the slide slightly to do so and retract the slide slightly again to deploy the trigger. 

Centurion Auctions

The pistol had a very flat and near-featureless design. It would fit in a pocket very well. It has the SIG SAS treatment before SIG ever existed. There were no snags present to catch on the draw, and it would slide into a pocket rather easily. The magazine release is at the bottom of the grip in a very European-style design. There are no visible sights, just a trench at the top of the slide. 

Inside the Praga Model 21

The gun used a simple blowback design and utilized the .25 ACP. It’s a tiny gun, and the barrel sits super low, giving it a very low bore axis, but that doesn’t matter much with .25 ACP. Since the barrel sits so low the recoil spring sits above the barrel. An interesting design feature is the fact it uses a wooden guide rod. According to a translation from a Czech Museum website, it achieves “elastic and quiet movement of the bolt.” 

Gun Wiki

I’m not quite sure if that works, but I’m guessing a wood guide rod would be pretty cheap. The magazine held six rounds in a super simple single-stack magazine. The weapon featured a magazine safety that was very popular with European pistols in the era. While it’s fairly simple as far as pistols go, it’s certainly unique in its design. 

There are somewhere between 7,500 and 8,600 of these handguns produced. I’ve seen both numbers tossed around. The weapon was built for two years but has since faded away. While the gun wasn’t successful, the overall design of the Praga Model 21 is quite interesting. Sadly, interesting doesn’t always mean successful. 

The Vertx Ready Pack – The Gray Man Backpack

I’ve been a big fan of Vertx gear ever since I got a Commuter sling years ago, and they’ve continued to impress me with their various offerings. The latest is the Vertx Ready Pack. It was time for SHOT Show, and I needed a bag to rock as I walked around the show. Hitting the show floor isn’t as easy as just heading down there and going for a member of the media. We need notebooks, batteries, and something to hold all the free swag you grab from booths. Plus, with a bottle of water costing six bucks at the convention center, I wanted to pack my own hydration. 

I’m also going to be honest with you. I don’t like being that guy with the uber-tactical backpack trying to look like an operator. My beer gut betrays any chance I have of being an actual operator, so why pose as one? The Ready Pack looks like Jansport could have made it. There isn’t really anything to give it away as a tactical pack. I look more like a guy going on a light hike than a guy that would scour SHOT Show. 

I didn’t necessarily get the bag with the intent to review it, but how often do you get the chance to put this many miles on a pack in a short amount of time? According to my smartwatch, I walked about 35 miles from the day I left for the airport to the day I arrived. That means I was, on average, walking about seven miles a day. That wasn’t all with the backpack, but the majority of the time, I was trotting about with a green Ready Pack on my back. 

Inside the Ready Pack 

Tactical is as tactical does, and I won’t try to say whether certain features make a bag tactical or not. The Ready Pack could be used as an assault pack if you really wanted, so I guess it’s tactical. To me, the features are all about utility, and the Ready Pack is a utility tool.

We get five pockets in total. Starting from the front, we get a mini pocket that’s great for quick access to gear. I used it for an external battery and phone charger. Behind that, we get another small pocket that is loop-lined that I used to drop in patches and swag. 

The pocket behind that is large but thin and features a layer of loop covered layer cut MOLLE and some loop material below. It was perfect for dropping catalogs in. Behind that, we get the main pocket with a removable hook and loop admin pouch, a mesh internal pocket, and a laptop pocket. Here, I stashed my laptop and charger. 

The final pouch is the CCW pouch, which didn’t get used for SHOT. It’s thin and completely layered in loop material. It’s big but thin and well-hidden. The CCW pouch comes equipped with the rapid access pull tab. This massive device makes it easy to grip and rip to open the pouch. The tab can actually be moved to any of the zippers easily enough. 

The pouch also has a hot pull. This is a tab inside the pocket that can stick up between the zipper. When pulled, it opens the pack rapidly and easily. 

Packing the Pack 

I took it from floor to floor, from range day to the show, and even around parts of Vegas when needed. The Ready Pack comes with a nice molded set of packs in the back and very thick shoulder straps that distribute weight well and make the whole setup quite comfy. The pads allow air to flow around the back and increase comfort. I’m still getting sweaty, just not as sweaty. 

The Ready Pack comes with both a chest strap and waist strap. I didn’t see the need for either for my expeditions, but if I was going off-road with a heavier load, it would start to make a lot more sense. The side hydration pockets always had at least one water bottle present, and the bungee retention ensured it didn’t matter if it was a big or small bottle. 

The bag remained quite comfy, even when it was stuffed to the gills with catalogs, my computer, and the varying other thing I might carry, like a jacket or a six-pack of beer. The Ready Pack toted it all in comfort and proved to be quite supportive for what looks like a backpack. 

I think Vertx has knocked it out of the park with the Ready Pack. It’s low profile in design and comes in a few different colors. Inside, we get some very modern features that aren’t present in the typical sports or school backpack. I love the extra utility the pack offers while still being able to be somewhat stylish and blend in well. My oldest has claimed it for school, so I might have a fight on my hands. 

The Best Defensive .410 Option

The .410 bore shotgun is well known for being the choice of new shooters, including kids, due to its small size and light recoil. While the 12 gauge dominates the duty and defensive world, the defensive .410 is often touted as a super low recoil option. Admittedly, the buckshot pellets from a .410 will dig deep enough to stop a threat and reach the vitals. In my mind, a PCC or AR in 5.56 would be better than a .410. 

When I began thinking more and more about the .410 as a defensive firearm, it dawned on me that I was going about it all wrong. I’ve been thinking about how I use a 12 gauge and applying that to how I’d use a .410. If I changed my train of thought about using a defensive .410, it began to make a little more sense. When we consider the defensive .410, we tout the low recoil nature of the weapon and how easy it is to shoot. 

The Stockless Defensive .410 

With that idea in mind, maybe the strength of the .410 isn’t in being a traditional shotgun. Its strength is lightweight and low recoil, which makes it a prime candidate for a pistol grip-type configuration. With a 12 gauge, a pistol-grip-only design takes a ton of training and practice to master. The advantage of the 12 gauge is that it is a lighter, easier-to-manage weapon. The downside is harsh recoil. 

These 12 gauge Shockwaves can be a lot to handle

The .410 is already going to be ultra-light. A full-sized .410 weighs less than six pounds. If we cut off the stock and replace it with a pistol grip, it gets shorter and lighter. Inside the home is often a tight environment, and smaller, lighter guns can be more useful.

Even when you load a .410 with a hot 000 buckshot load, the recoil is laughable, and I describe it as cute. This makes it easy for the vast majority of people to manipulate the weapon and fire repeated shots without issue. With that in mind, what are our defensive .410 options? 

Most .410s are field guns used for hunting. However, there are a few solid options out there that would make good defensive guns for those looking for such a thing. 

The Mossberg 590 Options 

Mossberg produces a couple of ‘tactical’ variants of the .410. They have the HS410, which is a stocked Mossberg 500 with a front pistol grip and ‘spreader’ choke device. They also produce a 590 variant in .410, which holds seven rounds in total. Both are stocked shotguns, but the stock can be removed and replaced with a pistol grip. You have options like the Shockwave grip, and Mossberg makes their own standard vertical grip. 

There is also the Mossberg Shockwave, which is a pistol grip-only (PGO) firearm. This is the smallest option and the one I’d be most likely to suggest. A few states prohibit these weapons, but not many. This gun is only a hair over 26 inches long and very easy to manipulate and handle. 

The .410 Mossbergs are drilled and tapped, so adding optics isn’t tough. You can toss a red dot on a section of rail for a light, and you’re good to go in terms of a defensive firearm. Mossberg’s pump action designs are classics that are highly reliable and very easy to find. They also tend to be affordable. 

The Henry Axe 

While expensive, the Henry Axe is another option for a PGO defensive .410. This is a lever-action firearm that, much like the Mossberg Shockwave series, isn’t a shotgun. It’s a firearm and remains over 26 inches long, with a barrel that’s about 16 inches long. It’s lightweight and handy. The lever action is different than the pump design, but it’s admittedly a ton of fun to shoot and handle. 

The weapon is lightweight and light recoiling. It’s fun to shoot but also effective. Working the lever might not be as intuitive as the pump at first, but you do get used to it fairly fast. For many, the price will be a turn-off, especially compared to the Shockwave and Mossberg 590, but it remains an option. 

The Taurus Judge Home Defender 

As much as I disliked the regular Taurus Judge, I’ve become partial to the Home Defender. The longer barrel allows the gun to pattern more like a shotgun when you use three-inch rounds. I think the gap created by the 3-inch cylinder causes the 2.5-inch rounds to pattern erratically. The weapon also works really well with the Hornady Critical Defense .410 load, which I really like. 

The benefit of the Home Defender is that it’s smaller than either of the other options. It’s a pistol with a 13-inch barrel. So it’s only a little over 19 inches long. It’s also a double-action action revolver, so you can use it with one hand. Unlike the Axe or Mossbergs, it doesn’t need a second hand to work an action. The capacity is five three-inch rounds, which is the same as the other two options. 

The Home Defender is also ready to use .45 Colt if need be. The rails allow for easy optics and light integration as well. It’s really a great option for home defense if you’re stuck on the idea of a defensive .410. 

The Defensive .410 

I’m not sure if I’m convinced of the capability of the .410 over other options, like braced large-format pistols. However, the .410 options are typically more affordable than a quality braced pistol design. I do think that stripping the gun down to make it light and small lends to its strengths. While I’m not turning to the .410 for home defense, I think the above three options are better choices for a defensive .410 than a full-sized shotgun. 

The Extar EP-9 Carbine – Budget Done Right

Budget guns come and go, and their quality varies greatly. When I say budget, I mean something that’s well worth your limited funds. When I say cheap, I mean it’s not such a good get and is typically an unreliable option. Whenever a firearm advertises itself as budget-friendly, it’s our job to figure out if it’s a budget firearm or a cheap firearm. The latest from our configuration is the Extar EP-9 Carbine. The Extar family of firearms has been mostly large format, often braced pistols.

They’ve made both .45 ACP and 9mm variants of the pistol, but this is their first rifle. These firearms have been known for their affordability, and that’s largely because Extar cuts out the middleman. They sell directly to the consumer and do so at a great price. Even after this stiff period of inflation, these guns have remained affordable. The EP-9 is predictably a 9mm rifle and uses Glock magazines.

The EP-9 Carbines aren’t quite AR-9s, but they do take a lot of influence from the AR-15 world. They are AR-lite in a number of ways. Their price point of around $500 makes them one of the more interesting and affordable firearms in the budget world.

Inside the EP-9 Carbine

The Extar EP-9 carbine is a bit more than a 16-inch barrel version of their pistol. These are more or less straight blowback firearms with something Extar called a mass delayed blowback system. Extar reengineered the bolt to take into account the extra back pressure the longer barrel places on the system.

The EP-9 Carbine’s mass-delayed blowback system takes what looks like any other blowback bolt and installs a weight on the top of this system. Weight and blowback systems are like peanut butter and jelly, and the two mix well. Without weight, the bolt would open too early. The EP-9’s method is a very simple way to delay the opening of the breech without the need for a super stiff buffer weight.

The weight on the top of the bolt features a small spring that the weight can move back and forth on just slightly. In the gun, I imagine this works a bit like the Ruger Dead Blow blowback system. It’s smart and very simple, and it works and keeps the price point low. The gun splits into two receivers, similar to the AR, but there is only one takedown pin.

The lower receiver looks and acts a bit like a standard AR lower with all the standard AR lower controls. The upper is a bit different. The top portion of the receiver sits a little higher and accommodates a right-side charging handle. The two receivers are made from polymer, which makes them quite interesting. Polymer and PCCs have been an expanding market.

The gun has a minimalist stock from Mission First Tactical and a short M-LOK handguard. It’s thoroughly modern for such an affordable firearm. It’s not super friendly for left-handed shooters, but that’s not a me problem.

To The Range

The gun comes without sights, so you’ll need to add your own. I went with a simple red dot. The gun comes with an Extar-made 18-round Glock magazine, but like most shooters, I have a pile of Glock mags. I was also testing the ETS Gen 2 Glock magazines, so it was a bit of synchronicity to test both at once.

First, let’s talk recoil. It’s not the smoothest system overall, but it’s not the worst, either. It’s better than the majority of AR9s out there but doesn’t reach the same level of a proper delayed system like the radial delayed CMMG systems.

It’s also a third of the price. The recoil isn’t sharp but feels chunky and noticeable. It won’t take you off target, but if you shoot a Bill Drill, you’ll most certainly notice the recoil and group size.

The straight blowback design does equate to a very reliable system. I fed the EP-9 Carbine a mix of 115-, 123-, and 147-grain ammunition and a mix of reman new and steel-cased crap, and it chunked its way through. The same goes for a variety of magazines. I used the Extar and the ETS, as well as the Glock OEM, Amend2, and Magpul magazines. They all went bang every time without issue.

Ringing Steel

In terms of accuracy, the gun performs admirably. I used a 25-yard zero and worked on dropping 9 mm-shaped pills into B-8 targets. Punching the blackout of a B8 at 25 yards wasn’t much of a challenge. When moving back to 50 yards, if I rested the gun and took my time, I could hit a 10-inch gong and keep the thing swinging over and over. From a practical standpoint, it’s going to put lead where you need it.

The accuracy isn’t going to produce a 1-MOA group, but that’s tough for any 9mm carbine to do. The EP-9 can certainly fit most user’s needs and will work well for home defense. The magazine well is beveled and helps make reloads fast. The right-side charging handle makes it easy to release the bolt and get the gun back in action. Throw the mag in, slap the action, and let it fly back into action.

The trigger has a bit of take-up to it and does have a slight plastic-on-plastic feel. It’s admittedly gotten better in short order, and it seems like it needed a little break-in. The weight is light, and the break is crisp. It’s just a bit of the journey that feels a little rough.

Budget or Cheap

I went through a few hundred rounds without complaint. The gun worked brilliantly. It’s got a few rough edges, but every budget gun has rough edges. Is it budget or cheap? The Extar EP-9 falls into the world of budget guns. It’s accurate, reliable, and easy to shoot. Gun writers like me can pick it apart, but in reality, it’s kind of crazy that someone can build a weapon like this and only charge $500.

All it needs is a red dot and an optic, and you have an awesome option for home defense, plinking, or maybe even a budget-level pistol caliber carbine entry in USPSA or PCSL. For the price, Extar has made an impressive rifle.

Do You (Really) Need a New Gun?

The answer is obviously yes, right? Buy that fourth mid-quality AR, slap a Holosun on it, and call it your latest build! I do recognize the difference between my needs and my wants. I’m not discouraging people who want to own firearms, who want to buy another firearm, or even buy a mid-tier AR with a Holosun on top of it. What I would like you to do is learn from my mistakes. My mistake was owning a dozen mid to cheap-tier firearms with an obsession over always adding a new gun and not focusing on three more important investments. Instead of buying another polymer frame, striker-fired handgun, I should have: 

– Invested in higher quality firearms. 
– Invested in higher quality gear. 
– Invested in myself and my ability to effectively utilize my firearms. 

I still love getting a new gun. That new gun smell, that first range trip, the first shots fired, it’s all good fun. However, I caution folks about piling up a wide variety of firearms without first investing some of that cash into quality options. I’m betting more than one person reading this has a dozen guns but never shoots them because ammo is expensive. One cheap Turkish shotgun is worth a case of 5.56, so is it really all that expensive in hindsight? 

The New Gun Checklist 

It’s okay. I’ve been that guy who always prioritized looking at my new gun rather than shooting the dozen I already have. Today, I want to provide you with a practical checklist you should answer before you purchase another firearm. I’ll explain the why behind each item, and hopefully, you can walk away from here with some renewed priorities. 

1 – Do I Own a Quality Holster For My Concealed Carry Firearm? 

I see a ton of people purchase a $500 gun, a $400 optic, and a $200 light and shove it all in a $40 holster from Amazon with a FOMI clip and craptastic design. A quality holster can cost up to $100, but it’s still fairly affordable compared to the purchase of another firearm. Get a good, well-made holster from Safariland, Phlster, Harry’s Holsters, etc. Yeah, it will cost more than $40, but it’s a buy-once-cry-once affair. To be completely honest, $40 is $35 too much for most of those holsters. 

Deep Concealment Illustrated
PHLster makes excellent holsters and concealment systems Photo Credit: PHLster.com

2 – Does My Home Defense Weapon Have a (quality) Weaponlight? 

I say weapon light because so many people use long guns, and using long guns and handheld lights is tough. However, if you are using a handgun and prefer a handheld light, that’s fine as long as you have some sort of illumination to go along with your home defense weapon. A good light ensures you can identify threats from friends, see your sights, and make your shots count inside the home. A quality weapon light from Streamlight costs less than $200.

3 – Do I Have a Non-Lethal Option?

If you carry just a gun, you only have one defensive option, and you’ve purposefully shorted yourself in scenarios where a gun might not be the best option. In intensely crowded environments or situations where you can’t establish a safe backdrop for your shot, nonlethal becomes another defensive option. It’s easier to pepper spray vicious dogs than it is to shoot them in most situations. A can of POM pepper spray costs $13; don’t skimp on it. 

4 – Do I Have Funds to Go To the Range and Practice? 

Before you squeeze the financial trigger on that new gun, ask yourself, when was the last time I practiced with the guns I have? If I buy this new gun, can I purchase 250 rounds and the range time to get a good trigger finger workout? Can I shoot a match this weekend if I buy the new Taurus Deputy? 

(Image P.E. Fitch)

5 – Do I Have a Quality Medical Kit? 

If you can put holes in things, you should be able to treat any holes someone puts in you or in others. A quality medical kit that’s made up of quality components from reputable manufacturers. We aren’t talking about your basic buy-it-at-Walmart first aid kit. We are looking at kits designed to stop the bleed. A high-quality, advanced, premium-grade kit from North American Rescue costs $200. That’s a Gucci-type kit, and it costs less than most guns. 

6 – Have I Taken a Defensive Class? 

Finally, before you buy a new gun, when was the last time you took a defensive-oriented firearm course? These classes can be expensive, and so can the ammo, but you’ll get through a hefty two-day course for about $500. That’s the average price of most quality handguns. If you have never taken a class or haven’t taken one in years, then maybe a new gun isn’t the best way to spend money. 

Shootingclasses.com

Stop, Collaborate, and Listen

I know and understand the siren’s call at the gun store. I get it, but I do think sometimes you gotta resist that call. If not, you might wind up bashed against the rocks. Sometimes, you need to take a look at your other priorities and determine what money goes where. 

ETS Gen 2 Glock Mags – Budget Mags Done Right

Elite Tactical Systems is a magazine company that makes a number of polymer magazines for various platforms. They’ve recently unleashed their Generation 2 series of pistol magazines. As someone always looking for an affordable option, the American-made ETS Magazines have always been of interest to me. I grabbed a couple of the ETS Gen 2 Glock mags from GunMagWarehouse during Black Friday and decided to give them a fair shake.

ETS magazines provide an interesting option for shooters. They make Glock mags, S&W mags, SIG mags, Scorpion mags, MP5 mags, AR mags, and many more at very affordable price points. Their magazines are all polymer, even when the source weapon uses aluminum magazines. ETS Magazines are famous for their transparent design and various colors. They’ve seen varying levels of success and failure.

Personally, I’ve used a series of their extended Glock 17 magazines for years without a problem. They’ve been through numerous PCCs, handguns, and more. On the flip side, the P320 magazines proved to only work in P320 polymer grip frames, and I’ve had issues with their Glcok 43X/48 magazines feeding.

The ETS Gen 2 Improvements

The ETS Gen 2 Glock magazines claim to have made numerous improvements to the design. The most important thing to me was the redesigned external geometry that would help the mags feed in PCCs. That’s what I use 32-round magazines for in the first place. The Gen 1s worked fine in PCCs, but sometimes you’d feel a hiccup as you slammed one home or even a false positive catch in some cases. Other times, they’d fail to fall free from the gun.

Beyond that, ETS claims the magazines have increased feeding reliability due to internal geometry changes, and the Gen 2 magazines use a high-tensile steel sprint and an anti-tilt follower. The improvement supposedly allows for improved feeding of steel and aluminum rounds. I had no feeding issues with my original magazines, but I do remember feeling steel cases stick as I loaded them in the Gen 1 magazines.

Sadly, in the year 2024, it seems like brass-cased ammo is all I can find. Tula costs more than Blazer Brass, and Winchester Forged has disappeared, as have Monarch steel cases. At least locally, for me, they’ve disappeared.

To The Range With the ETS Gen 2 Mags

My father-in-law has a saying I love, “There ain’t nothing left to do but do it, so I did it.” I like to be efficient, so I’ve been testing the new S&W Response and the Extar EP9 Carbine. For almost the entirety of my testing, I used my three ETS Gen 2 Glock mags. With the Extar, I used their stock magazines for a portion, and with the Response, I used the included M&P magazine well for a portion of testing.

Any shooting and testing of guns I do involves lots of live fire, reloads, and malfunction drills. How else do you get a good grip on what the gun can do? It also gave me a good idea of what the magazines can do. My reloads involve letting those magazines hit the dirt, sometimes empty, sometimes partially loaded. Malfunctions involve Snap Caps, and shooting involves…well, lots of shooting.

Between the two guns, I fired a thousand rounds, so every magazine saw something in the neighborhood of 300ish rounds, dozens of drops, and plenty of time in a mag pouch moving up and down the range. They were mostly problem-free. After a few long days on a wet range, one developed an issue where it would fail to feed partially through the magazine. It required a swift hit to work.

By then, the ETS Gen 2 mag was filthy from the nasty blowback action of the guns. I stripped it down and cleaned the spring, follower, and inside of the magazine. I pulled out plenty of carbon and dirt. After that, it had one more failure to feed but has since worked without issue. It’s marked now to keep an eye on it, but after a few drills, it seems to be working fine.

Final Word on the ETS Gen 2 Mags

I’m pleasantly impressed. The ETS Gen 2 mags were inserted and fell free without issue from my PCCs. They were reliable, and most of all, they were cheap. I paid $11 apiece for them. With that said, they aren’t steel-lined like Glock mags, and one of the three had some issues after getting some good use in. I’d regulate them to range and even comp mags. For home defense or carry, I’d stick to OEM magazines.

Machine Gun – The Origin of the Term

Machine gun is a bit of an interesting term. Unlike other firearms, the term seems to be a bit more nebulous. Where does it come from? Who invented it? What exactly does it mean? When I say the term machine gun, what do you picture? A lot of people picture any firearm that fires in any form of full auto. That’s more or less the NFA definition of a machine gun, and this means everything from a Glock 18 to an M60 is a machine gun.

You might also just picture the M60 and similar belt-fed designs. That’s more or less the military definition of the machine gun. Both definitions involve full auto fire, and both are more than acceptable definitions. However, that’s not what the term has always meant; in fact, the term machine gun is a bit silly.

Origins of the Term Machine Guns

The first time the term machine gun was used was by Richard Gatling, inventor of the Gatling gun. The term first appeared in his patent for the Gatling gun. The Gatling gun is a multi-barreled firearm that uses a hand crank to operate. It feeds from a top-loaded hopper-type magazine. The rate of fire was about 200 rounds a minute. It’s a fairly complicated design and relies on mechanical loading and firing; thus, it is called a machine gun. Two hundred rounds per minute is tame by today’s standards. In fact, in the modern era, the Gatling gun isn’t even a machine gun.

By law, a Gatling gun is not an NFA regulated weapon. You can order one and transfer it through your normal FFL; no SOT or tax stamp is necessary. Tippman makes Gatling guns in 9mm and .22LR, and they are considered semi-auto firearms. The crank requires the user to operate movement to fire, and a machine gun, by law, requires a trigger that must be continually pressed to fire. Yet, Gatling guns were called machine guns back in their day. They certainly have the rate of fire of a machine gun.

Before the Gatling Gun

The Gatling gun was arguably the first successful machine gun, but not the first machine gun. As we glance back into the past, the idea of what a machine gun is or isn’t can be defined by the understanding of what a machine is in the first place. If you go back to the 17th century, the Chinese invented a hopper-fed cannon that would be considered a machine gun.

The famed Puckle gun was a cannon design with a rotating cylinder. The cylinder was hand-cranked and users could easily swap the cylinder for a fast reload. The gun wasn’t very successful, but it was a machine gun by the definition of the era. You can dig through the history of rapid-fire weapons, and you’ll find dozens of examples.

Many were fragile, and many couldn’t be reliably mass-produced, but they often used different forms of machinery to operate. This includes spring-loaded magazines, rotating cranks, and various hopper designs, including some that were more or less magazines with spring and gravity-fed designs.

Evolution of the Machine Gun

The one thing that all these various machine guns have in common is their ability to fire rapidly in a sustained manner. The term rapidly really depends on the definition of the term rapidly for the era. If your basic infantry rifle can fire two rounds a minute, then the Puckle gun, which fires at a rate of nine rounds per minute, seems pretty fast.

In the modern era, most infantry MGs and assault rifles fire at the same rate or fire. However, the machine gun can do so at a sustained rate for a longer period of time. The term has most certainly evolved and grown, but in the modern era, it’s rather silly when compared to the complicated mechanical guns like the Gatling gun or the Puckle gun. Believe it or not, the design of the M240 is less complicated than the design of the Gatling gun.

The machine gun of the modern era uses a similar gas-operated system as assault rifles or semi-auto rifles. An AK uses a long-stroke gas piston, and the M240 also uses a long-stroke gas piston system. The differences are rather minor when compared to the differences between a Gatling gun and a single-shot rolling block.

Terms are always nebulous and evolving, and rarely are they all that useful in a vacuum. It’s an interesting evolution of both terminology and firearms.

Thoughts on the 30 Super Carry In 2024

In 2022, a new round hit the ground running, calling itself the 30 Super Carry from Federal. At first glance, I was quite stoked to see the little cartridge. I like the idea of .32 caliber pistol rounds. They seem to be the just-right size for handguns and have an impressive lineage. Introducing a new caliber in 2022 was a risk, but Federal really seemed to be backing it. S&W released two handguns to go alongside the release, and Nighthawk tossed out a custom 1911 for the round as well.

Now that we are two years past the initial launch, I thought it would be interesting to do a pulse check on the cartridge. I started thinking about this in 2023, and I made sure to keep an eye out for the 30 Super Carry guns and ammo I saw in person. At SHOT 2024, I made sure to pay attention to any new guns released in 30 Super Carry. Has the 30 Super Carry lived up to its .32 ACP lineage?

The Promise of the 30 Super Carry

The idea behind the cartridge is simple. What are the benefits of 9mm? It offers excellent capacity, it’s mild in the recoil department, and modern projectiles allow for excellent penetration and expansion. The goal of the 30 SC was to take those features and make them better. The smaller rounds allowed for greater capacity without expanding the magazine. The round would have the same recoil characteristics as the 9mm and the same good penetration and expansion.

Just shrink it a bit to make room for extra rounds. We can’t deny that capacity rules. That’s the reason why the P365 spawned an entire genre of firearms. In P365-sized firearms, the flush-fitting magazine holds ten rounds, and with the 30 Super Carry, you could squeeze 12 rounds into the same space. That’s a pretty big benefit. At SHOT 2022, I fired the Shield Plus in 30 SC, and it felt just like the 9mm.

Gel tests confirmed the expansion and penetration were adequate, and ultimately, it’s proven to be a solid defensive cartridge. So, has the 30 SC taken over the self-defense market?

Sadly, No

I kept track of the number of times I saw 30 SC and firearms in stores. Throughout the entire year and all of my trips, I only saw three instances of 30 SC. Two were at the big box store Academy. They were selling the Federal FMJ ammo, and one of the Academy’s had the Shield Plus in 30 SC. The third time was some 30 SC self-defense ammo at a Bass Pro. I never saw the ammo or guns in local gun stores or at gun shows.

A lack of retail support can make it difficult to get a caliber off the ground. Sure, guys and gals like you and me know about these things because we are invested in the world of firearms. Your average Joe, who is the market you really want to tap, isn’t seeing the cartridge in stores. When I did see the cartridge in stores, the price was $30 for a box of 50. For comparison, 9mm was around $13 a box. At more than double the price, the 30 Super Carry is a tough sell.

Of course, you can order almost anything online, but that leads to even more cost in the form of shipping. Still, it’s considerably more expensive. Everyone and their mom make a 9mm load, which creates a higher level of competition that drives down the price significantly. It’s even easy to find websites with bulk ammo and free shipping when searching for 9mm.

What About Guns

The 30 Super Carry started strong with three guns from two companies. S&W released an EZ model and a Shield Plus option in 30 SC. Nighthawk even provided a 1911 model with an increased capacity. In May of 2023, Hi-Point released the 3095 carbine, which was the first PCC to chamber the cartridge. Since then, well, it’s been crickets.

The Roadblock

The roadblock that keeps me from moving to the 30 Super Carry is my investment in 9mm. I have a ton of ammo, guns, and magazines for the round. I love my P365, and I have tons of holsters, grip modules, optics, and even barrels for the gun. I’d be willing to consider the .30 SC if I could convert my P365 back and forth and still use 9mm to train.

Sadly, the lack of support ensures this isn’t possible. A new cartridge is a tough sale these days, and I think the 30 SC just got introduced at a bad time. Ammo is priced higher than ever before, and the inflation from the original COVID panic purchasing hasn’t really waned.

With that in mind, I do think the 30 Super Carry is a cool idea, but the current lack of availability, price, and general support makes it a tough round to adopt. As much as I hope it succeeds, I’m thinking it’s time in the sun is almost over.