A recent thread on Reddit, of all places, spurred me to write something on the topic of what I call the “run-to-the-store” pistol. Here’s how this tends to work: people online discuss their vast arsenals, the benefits of a Sig P226 versus a Glock 17 versus an HK (actually, on Reddit, it’s almost invariably a Taurus or XD), along with AR vs. AK, Daniel Defense vs. BCM, 9mm vs. .45, etc. But then comes the good old, “But when I just have to run to the gas station/7-11 to get some milk, I usually just throw my X into my pocket”, where X can be a Ruger LCP, Kahr .380, J-frame, or some other model offering limited capacity, poor grip characteristics, (often) poor sights, and dubious fight-stopping ability. The usual rationale for said decision is that “it’s just a quick run out” and “I don’t feel like putting on my holster, gun, spare magazine, etc.” Truth be told, I know of at least one ex-Tier One Operator—now a member of the training industry—who told me he often does this.
Many who utilize this policy seem to subscribe to the “a little gun you have with you is better than the big gun you left at home” philosophy, and I get that. After all, surely the first key to winning a gunfight is having a gun! Still, let us think about this for a moment. As John Murphy of FPF Training discussed in the class I took here, and as I am sure I have heard Tom Givens say on various podcasts, gas stations and convenience stores are the water holes of our world. Just like a lion might lurk in the shadows around a water hole in Africa, sizing up his prey, so too do the less-than-upstanding members of our world. Anyone who watches the videos put out there by John Correia at Active Self Protection (Follow ASP on Facebook. Seriously!) can testify that the number of incidents that happen in and around gas stations and convenience stores is ridiculously high. There’s a reason so many people refer to such places as “Stop ‘n Robs”.
In short, due mostly to laziness, the person who practices this habit of just throwing a J-Frame or LCP into his pocket is actually heading into one of the places he is most likely to need a firearm. Think about that. If you were heading to a location where there was more than the typical chance of you needing your firearm, wouldn’t you want all the firearm you could carry?
Where I live is pretty much purely residential, a “good neighborhood” with just some property crime and rarely any violent crime. The nearest stores are more than a mile and several turns away. I can understand heading out for a walk, to walk the dog, etc., in such a neighborhood with a small pocket pistol. But if I am heading anyplace where commerce is taking place, then I want something more.
My best advice for the pocket-sized guns is to use them in the following roles:
- As an around-the-house gun. I am a big believer in keeping a gun on me at home (as I touched on here), and in this case, for the sake of convenience, a smaller gun works well. It is unobtrusive, light, and can be carried in virtually any clothing. Since I am at home, I should have warning of any intruders, and so can literally use the small gun to fight my way to something more substantial.
- As a backup gun. Whether worn on an ankle, in an outer coat pocket in the winter (as John discussed here), or some other location, a small, highly concealable gun could be your ace-in-the-hole if things go really badly for you.
- As an NPE gun. NPE refers to a non-permissive environment, i.e. a place where firearms are not allowed by policy, law, or what I will call general tradition (where dress such as formal business attire or athletic garb would hinder the carry of a larger pistol). I am not advocating anyone break any laws, but a small pistol like a J Frame or LCP can be very well hidden and serve as the gun to carry when you “cannot” carry a gun.
So, keep your pocket guns to the above roles, and when you head to your local gas station/convenience store, remember that you are at a water hole for humans. Let your situational awareness kick up a notch so that you can recognize what is happening and, hopefully, avoid the need to draw your pistol. But if the worst happens, you will be glad you brought along your “more serious” pistol.
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