It is 1987…

If you are a saavy pistolero, you are no doubt packing one of the latest iterations of the, “wonder nine,” or, “crunchenticker,” (as the late COL Jeff Cooper was fond of saying…because the first double-action pistol shot was a CRUNCH and the rest, fired single action, were TICKS) in an OWB or IWB of some leather iteration.  Or heck, they are pretty safe to carry with the decock down, so maybe you just slip it into your belt and go on about your day?

Who am I kidding?  I was just a kid in 1987.  But, thanks to guys like Dave Spaulding and Massad Ayoob, and my mother’s bi-weekly trips to the supermarket to feed my family, I read EVERY gun publication in the rack, every trip.  I would read, memorize, and learn.  I had only limited experience at that time, just with revolvers and manual action rifles and shotguns, but a fine semi-automatic pistol like a SIG P226 or a Smith and Wesson Model 659 seemed like a work-of-art to me.  I wanted one…but then:

Enter the Crime Bill of 1994.  THANKS BILL CLINTON!  I was 19 years old.  The buying frenzy was already on.  I had a buddy that worked at ACE Hardware, who would keep me abreast on the latest buying binges, and what was popular on our little Pacific Northwest Island.  High capacity magazines were gone…in their place were the neutered 10 round versions.  Depressing…all this time I was so looking forward to the day I could go to Kesselring’s gunshop and buy my own wonder-nine, when I turned 21.  But alas, that day never came.  My first two handguns were a Smith 681 and a 649.  I was working for an armored car service and needed a primary and a BUG.  And it made no sense to me to carry a 10 round, magazine fed pistol that couldn’t be fired from the gunports of the armored vehicles I worked in.  So I rolled with the revolver, practiced and here I am today.  At the time, I carried my 649 in an Uncle Mike’s suede-like IWB with a clip.  It was tacky, stuck to my skivvies, and allowed me good access with a quick draw when I needed it.  Reholstering wasn’t as easy; the gun had to be twisted into the holster.  Not ideal, but doable.

Fast forward years later, and appendix carry is totally in-style.  And for all the right reasons.  You can hide a gun carried in the appendix position (for the uninitiated, I’m talking about the 12 o’clock to 2 o’clock position for a right handed shooter) and access it, even while driving, very easily.  There now exists a myriad of holsters available for appendix carry, in both leather and kydex, and they are tested and designed, THEN redesigned, by very competent gunmen.  So now it is actually possible to find a product, that is purpose-built to perform the AIWB role, and not have to buy something that is intended for conventional IWB and chop it up and modify it.  

One of the many issues that so many other great minds have thought of, was, “HEY!  I have a striker fired pistol pointed at my femoral artery/genitals, and if I muff up this draw (OR reholster), I will have one non-factory hole.”  But, we love our striker fired pistols!  Glocks, M&P’s…they are so easy to run, and shoot fast.  Bob Vogel tears up the competition world with one, with superhuman agility and speed.  But what makes them so easy to shoot, also makes them have a higher potential of unintentionally parking a round in your own body on reholster.  And it HAS happened.  People get zippers, shock-cord pulls and what have you stuck between the holster mouth, their body and the trigger guard, and unexpected loud noises occur!  How do we prevent that?  

I like appendix holsters that are made out of bright colored material.  The leather appendix holsters I use are all natural, or neutral colors.  I can visually SEE that the mouth of the holster is unobstructed.  Yes…not tactical black, or some other ninja color, but I don’t really care; I’m a dentist.  I like kydex colors that are also in light, bright colors.  Another factor to consider (and this is the take home) is using a TDA semi-automatic pistol (instead of striker fired pistol).  Hubris aside, my aim here is to say that many folks, thanks to guys like Todd Louis Green (of, Claude Werner (THE TACTICAL PROFESSOR), Ernest Langdon (Langdon Tactical Inc.) and John Johnston of Ballistic Radio, amongst others, have recently lauded the benefits and attributes of the TDA for defensive carry.  (AUTHOR NOTE:  I care not WHAT you carry, as something is better than nothing at all)  Recently, Wilson Combat has started to offer their excellent gunsmithing and modification services to the Beretta 92 series of guns.  So, I think with the resurgence of appendix carry (Bruce Nelson carried a Commander in the original, “Summer Special,” in the 1970’s) and the concerns over safety, the TDA semi-automatic pistol will become more and more popular.  And with the market swing, manufacturers will bring back or perhaps redesign their products to suit the consumer.

One of the pistols I always thought was great when I was a kid was the Smith and Wesson 3rd Generation Series.  They looked so rugged, and weighted, and when I handled them, they seemed solid.  And solid they were, as users of them often referred to them as, “Boat Anchors.”  Or, as Tom Givens said to me once, “You can alway hit them with it if it runs out of ammo and you don’t have to worry about it bending.”  But by the time I was old enough to buy one, and the Crime Bill had expired, the only versions of that elegant pistol available were the, “Tactial Series,” with that ugly rail nailed onto the dust cover, or the, “Chief,” and, “Value,” series (the 908 and CS9/CS 45) pistols.  So, unless you hit the secondary market to find one, you were out of luck!  

Luckily I recently scored a police duty trade-in Model 6904.  Novak sights, 12 round magazine, comfortable but girthy grip, smooth but long DA trigger, short and crisp SA trigger, and best of all, carried heavily but barely used.  So, in the spirit of this column/blog, I will run my tests in the DA/SA pistol realm with this old favorite!


OLD GUNWRITER TRICK…cover up any fliers with a gun!  My 6904 with my M&P IDPA/understudy carry gun for a size comparison.  It’s basically a Glock 19 sized pistol with a DA trigger like my Smith L frame.  Smooth, long, but positive.


What the reduced size B27 target ACTUALLY looked like, when I shot it at 10 yards, decocking to DA for every shot.  Which, with the slide mounted decocker SEEMS like it would be clunky and awkward, but it really isn’t.  Whether using the right hand thumb (I’m right handed) or the off-hand thumb, it works well.  And yeah, I drop a few shots into the eight ring now and again, but that’s why I PRACTICE!  With some more practice and exploration, I’ll find what RS can do for our DA/SA friends, to contribute to the collective intelligence!

Thanks for reading!

3 thoughts on “BRACE YOURSELVES…

  1. My first semi-automatic pistol was an early S&W 5904 with squared trigger guard, bought used of course. At that time I carried a S&W 686-3 4 inch and a S&W Chief’s Special (Pre-57). I despised Glocks for some stupid reason and was a “Smith and Wesson is all quality and functionality” guy, But once I got my hands on that 5904 and started putting ammo through it, I realized how much better the Semi-automatic pistol fit my niche of carry. of course I went from shooting 100 yards with my 686 to 50 with my 5904, I found myself wanting a trigger that was a breed of both, and I found that the decocker was never used as a safety and it interrupted my charging of the pistol. I then sought out a pistol that was smooth on both sides with little to catch on anything, that had no manual safety, and was around the same size. I sold that 5904 for a profit (I regret it, it was an awesome piece) and I went on my search, only to be immediately led into a Local gunsmith that had a “Glock 19” which turned out to be a Glock 17 Gen 4 that I purchased.(after not being able to find a G19 during the whole AWB scare a few years back). I couldn’t find any 34’s, 17’s, or 19’s, just the .40 S&W chambered ones and the G26’s (Which I pushed my disdain onto it.) Anyways, I loved that 17 and pushed my skills, I fell in love with the trigger, the looks, and the overall function. Fast forward a little bit and I eventually traded it to that same Gunsmith for a BNIB Gen 4 Glock 19, and when I was looking for a BUG, my Chief was sold and I picked up the 26 for mag interchangeability. I love and use both, but that 686-3 is my safe queen and sometimes I carry it. I realized that at self defense ranges, I could be faster and put a lot more rounds on target with the no recoiling 9mm. It is intoxicating to automatically reach for that spare magazine and operate it with a completely clear mind. Thanks for your article, it really made me miss that 5904 that worked so hard on my training.

  2. I’m only a few years older than you, but I loved the old 469/669. I saw A LOT of these inside the holsters of the street gang squads my Uncle worked with in Chicago (before the all DAO era of Chicago sidearms). It also didn’t hurt that George in Alien Nation: The TV series had one too.

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