Monday, September 29, 2008

How To Comfortably Carry Concealed

(Note that this article is for product review purposes only. Carry laws are enforced state-by-state and it’s up to you to know your states policies and laws. Please do not take any of the written comments as legal advice.)

After my last entry a comment was left, “Can you tell me how you would conceal carry a heavy .45 caliber like this one? How do I wear a normal shirt and pants and still conceal this thing?”

Great question! Let’s back up and then in this article I will show you several ways (with photographs) that I carry the Kimber Ultra Carry II and my other carry gun, an Ultra Light Taurus Model 85 .38 Special. I’ll also be discussing one of the big questions that are frequently asked. “Of all the conceal carry options out there, which ones work the best?” I’ve done the research for you and might be able to help you decide.

According to the NRA’s website, “There are 40 Right-to-Carry states. Thirty-six have “shall issue” laws, requiring that carry permits be issued to applicants who meet uniform standards established by the state legislature. Three have fairly-administered discretionary-issue carry permit systems. One, Vermont, respects the right to carry without a permit (Halleluiah, a true constitutional state). Alaska, one of the “shall issue” states, has its permit system for the purpose of permit-reciprocity with other states, and also adopted a no-permit-required law in 2003.”

I have memberships a both an indoor and outdoor range that hold CCW classes and I’ve noticed these classes are quite full. If 40 state allow it and the classes are full then who’s carrying? Who’s using the license that they paid $125+ to get? Do you see people walking around with holsters or do you see guys with untucked shirts that are obviously hiding a suspicious hip hump? Personally, I don’t see that many.

In most cases people that can do it don’t. They have a gun and the permit but for one reason or another leave the gun locked in a safe at home. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with having a permit and not carrying on a daily basis. I applaud anyone for going through the course and having the card. For a while I was one of those people.

I actually tried carrying a concealed gun to see what it felt like. Let me tell you, it’s a weird feeling. You feel like everyone can tell, you overly cautious about keeping it hidden and as you walk around the grocery store (or where ever you are) you can’t seem to forget you’re packing! That on top of your wife saying, “Do you really need to carry that thing?” and you can easily give up.

After having my CCW for several years now, I’ve tried to identify the reasons why people don’t carry even though they can and I’ve narrowed it to these:
1) They feel funny walking around with a loaded gun even though it’s well concealed. If you aren’t at ease carrying, don’t carry. Don’t ever let anyone encourage you to carry if you don’t feel compelled to do so.
2) Some find it awkward or uncomfortable to have a heavy piece of metal strapped to their bodies all day long. Having a loaded weapon loose in your purse or sitting in a car with a holster in the small of your back or feeling like you have to wear baggy clothes can encourage you to rethink the whole CCW thing.
3) It’s a pain. Many people don’t want to deal with the daily hassle of concealment, or they don’t have the right set up (we’re going to talk about this in depth).
4) Lastly, some people don’t have the right sidearm. If you’re 5’9” like me and try to hide a full-sized Springfield XDm on your body, you’ll find it awkward, uncomfortable and a pain.
Item 1 speaks for itself so we’re going to cover items 2-3 all at once. Remember, this article isn’t written to encourage you to carry if you’d rather not; it’s written for those that want to carry but haven’t found the right conceal carry system.

First, if you’re going to seriously carry on a regular basis, get a light-weight, well-built pistol that’s designed to be carried close to your body and out of sight. There are so many of these on the market that the decision is usually very easy (S&W makes an Airlite .357 revolver that’s as light as a plastic toy). There are only a few generally accepted rules. 1) Carry as much power as you can comfortably conceal. 2) when your life depends on it, a .22 in your hand is better than a .45 ACP locked in a safe at home. So buying a comfortable .22 that you’ll carry everyday is better than an awkward bazooka that you’ll leave at home. If you point a .22 at an attacker and start popping off rounds, most will be taken by surprise and will run for cover allowing you to run for safety and call 911. 3) Comfort will keep you carrying. Uncomfortable holsters will only piss you off and make you wonder why you spent the money on getting your CCW.

Once you find a gun, you’ll need a couple of good, comfortable, easy to use holsters. Yes, I said a couple of holsters (maybe more). I have FOUR different ones. NOTE, many experts say that you should carry the same way every day so you have an automatic draw response to any immediate threat situation. I actually agree with them…IF THAT WERE PRACTICAL! I wear everything from shorts and a T-shirt to a suit to jeans and a casual shirt all in one week! So how can one system be perfect for all those clothing options? If you’re comfortable keeping your gun tucked up against your crotch, Thunderwear ( can be worn with almost any type of clothing (even skirts or kilts). Fortunately for us that feel funny about keeping a loaded gun pressed tightly against our genitals there are other options.

I’m about to reveal my carry secrets in hope that you find a system or two that works for you. One thing I need to point out is that no one system works all the time and none of the holsters are without their flaws.

Chest/Belly Band:
This is one of my favorite ways to carry one of my two carry guns. In this picture you can see that with a crisp starched shirt tightly tucked in, there isn’t a good way to wear an exterior or IWB (inside the waistband holster). The comfortable solution is the chest/belly band. There are several companies that make them but mine’s an Underwrap Belly Band from Galco.

Notice that with the flick/rip of one button you have access to your sidearm. The draw isn’t fast but your gun is with you and not in your dresser drawer while you’re being violently pulled into a white delivery van with no windows (maybe I’ve seen too many CSI episodes). I’ve worn this way for a year without being “outed”. Your wife/significant other will like this rig too because the only thing that will give you away is carelessly hugging people.
At first, it felt like I was wearing a bra or something. It took a few weeks to get used to. Then as the day wore on, it would slide down a bit so I tightened the Velcro. Bad idea, at the end of the day I felt like I had been squeezed by a boa constrictor. I’ve now found the right tension and find it so comfortable that I forget I’m wearing it (key trick is to let is slide down a bit. It’ll find a good resting place and stay there).

There are other options like holsters built into undershirts but unless you’re willing to buy 10 of them, don’t buy one. The reason is that unless you want to wear the same undershirt day after day or spend lots of money buying multiples, you’ll find yourself without a holster every other day while you’re washing it. The band works with any and all undershirts and you only need one of them (I paid $35 for mine). When you do the research, do the math.
Remember I said no holster is without its problems? There are TWO problems with the chest band system though, one is that it won’t work under a casual t-shirt and the other is that you can barely see it through a white dress shirt (barely too risky for me, I don’t wear it with white) - even a nice quality pinpoint oxford. But I have a solution for those problems coming up.

Ankle Holsters:
When wearing a suit and white dress shirt, the only acceptable option I’ve found is an ankle holster. This one is a Galco specifically designed for Taurus small frame revolvers and S&W J-Frames. It came with a thumb break style retention system that drove me nuts. So I cut the damn thing off. If you look closely you should be able to tell. Being that the revolver cylinder fits so snugly in the leather, the guns stays in place very well. Learn from me and buy the version without the thumb break. The elastic ankle band is lined with a sheep’s wool lining and effectively keeps your ankle bone pain free.

It too takes a few days to get used to but once you get the appropriate tension figured out, a good quality ankle holster is quite comfortable. Cheaply made ones can really hurt your ankle bone. I find the optional Velcro Calf Strap helps keep the holster from sliding down into view. It also works with boot cut jeans. Problems are that it won’t work with tight-legged pants, high-water pant legs (clam-diggers) or shorts. And, drawing is about as slow as the belly band.
The secret to an effective draw from an Ankle is this. Wear the holster on the inside of your weak leg. While keeping your eyes on the “bad guy”, lift your leg while pulling your pant leg up with your weak hand and drawing with your strong hand. The wrong way is to bend over and taking your eyes off your attacker and putting yourself in an even MORE vulnerable position.

There are several good options for casual t-shirts. One is the small-of-back holster (aka, SOB), the tight and tight pancake holster and the Inside-the-waistband holster (aka, IWB). This series of pictures show how a pancake holster works and how it looks with a simple t-shirt covering the sidearm. The one I wear is a Gould & Goodrich open top model made for a short model 1911.

This series of photos show how the small-of-back system works with both my Kimber Ultra Carry II (Gould & Goodrich SOB Holster) and my much loved Ultra Lite Taurus .38 Special snubbie (Galco SOB Holster). I bought one from each company so I could see if there was a difference in them and there really isn’t. They are both very well made and both keep the gun securely in the holster with a tension screw that you’ll tighten as the holster breaks in.
One professional criticism of the SOB is that if you fall backward onto your back, the gun could injure your spine. Good point but in all my life I can’t recall falling flat on my back like that. My tailbone’s taken a few unfortunate and painful hits but the small of my back has seemed pretty accident free.

Another comment is, “that can’t be comfortable sitting in a car with that thing back there.” Actually, it’s not bad if you keep the gun slightly off center the grip over your kidney (sounds bad but it isn’t). I sit down, shift around a bit then forget about it. Actually, if you’re ever car-jacked, having a pistol tightly wedged between your back and the seat isn’t a “fast access” location so I usually remove the gun from the holster and place it somewhere easier to access while driving.

As much as I like this system, it too has its flaws. When you bend over and your shirt rides up, it can sometimes reveal the muzzle portion of the holster or even show that tell-tell hip bump – the solution is to squat instead of bend when you can or wear longer shirts.

From time-to-time I use a cheap Uncle Mike’s ( inside the waist band holster and it’s a fantastic way to go. I think it’s one of the best ways to carry a gun as it solves some of the “peaking” problems created by a SOB and Pancake. Since the gun is tucked in your pants, if your shirt rides up the muzzle of the gun won’t get revealed. BUT it too has its issues. You must buy pants that are big enough for you, your holster and your gun. And gaining weight severely compromises your comfort and ability to carry. I would NOT buy a $10 Uncle Mikes like mine; they are flimsy and do a bad job of really retaining the firearm. Rather buy one from Gould & Goodrich, Galco or Cross Breed (as a reward for some weight loss, I’ll by myself one).
There are even tuckable IWB holsters. I have one made by Galco and don’t really like it. For me, it’s an uncomfortable, awkward option.
Yes, you can tuck in your shirt over it, but it’s very difficult to do. Since the shirt is pinched between the holster’s “V” hook, it can get twisted and bunched up real easily. Not only that, since it doesn’t have any leather between, you gun and your body, I found the abrasion to be irritating too. I wore it for five straight days to see if it’d grow on me and only found myself getting more and more frustrated. By the end of the week I was ready to throw it away.

So there you have it, if you feel compelled and want to carry…carry. Don’t let lack of comfort stop you. There are too many options out there and several of them will more than likely work well for you no matter what your daily dress code is. So comfortably enjoy your freedom, comfortably enjoy your gun and comfortably enjoy your safety.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008


Shooting is fun. My buddy Bruce and I really enjoy our time at the range but shooting 9mm and .45 ACP on a weekly basis was really costing us a lot of money. So, we decided to spend some money now with the intent of saving money later. Our math worked like this, if shooting Winchester 9mm cost $20 per 100 at Wal-mart, $30 per 100 .45 and shooting Federal .22 cost us $13 per 550 then if we each shot about 5,000 rounds a year it would cost us $1,000 for 9mm, $1,500 for .45 but only $120 to shoot .22!

Of those 5,000 rounds, if we shot 2,500 centerfire ($500 for 9mm) and 2,500 .22 ($60 for .22) our annual ammo cost would be $560. The cost difference bought us each a .22 cal. pistol. How's that for a great (rationalizing) reason to buy another gun?

After handling several different .22 cal. target/hunting pistols Bruce bought the Browning Buck Mark Camper with a stainless 5.5 inch Bull Barrel. He paid a very fair $299 for it. The only things that came in the plastic storage box was the gun, one 10-round magazine and an allen wrench. Bruce quickly bought a second magazine and will more than likely buy one or two more in the future.

The first thing immediately notice about the pistol is the weight. It feels much lighter than many other .22 sporting pistols. I would say it weighs about as much as a well made airsoft pistol. My first thought was that this will be a very easy gun to wield but it'll suffer from a bit of recoil induced muzzle motion. As these thoughts were going through my head, I also noticed that the contoured grip was very comfortable and the gun was very well balanced. It didn't feel nose heavy like many bull-barreled, rather it felt perfectly neutral in my hand.

I loaded the two 10-round magazines and readied the gun for firing. The slide pulls back very easily and the light gun quickly goes to sights. I lined up the bright green fiber optic front sight and pulled the trigger. The shot broke with a crisp trigger that has very little travel. I kept the trigger depressed to allow the gun a natural follow-though then lessened the pressure on my trigger finger and the trigger reset with only a tiny amount of movement ready for the next shot.

The shots from my first magazine were ill-placed and not a good indication of the gun's ability to shoot due to my concentration of the "feel" of the thing. On the second magazine, I tried to keep my shots grouped as tightly as possible. At this point in the day, our targets were out at 10 yards making it easy to shoot tight groups. Even so, I was very happy with the result with someone else's gun.

My first impression that the light gun would allow even a .22 to have a some muzzle flip was unfounded. The well balanced gun had a small amount of flip but nothing too noticeable for a casual sporting gun. If this gun were to be used for competition, the flip would need to be tamed with some sort of compensator but for our use, it was a very easy gun to shoot.

Fiber optic sights are very popular and getting more popular by the day and I can see why. On a sunny day it offers a very bright focal point for your eye and makes it so much easier to align the front sight between the rear sight notch quickly and accurately.

This is obviously a pistol that can be handled by a full-grown man, woman or young child just learning to shoot. The medium-sized grip, light weight, easy sighting and light recoil make it ideal for any shooter. When I say any shooter, I mean it. If you're new to the sport this gun will help you master some of the basics and get you accustomed to handling, aiming and shooting a pistol. If you're a seasoned verteran you'll get tons of fun and trigger time for less than 3 cents a shot. That's almost as cheap as dry firing at home.

If you're looking for a competitive target pistol, capable of shooting 1/2 inch groups at 25 yards, you'll want to graduate up to the Browning Buck Mark Bullseye Target Stainless or the
Buck Mark Contour Lite 7.25 URX or even replace the factory barrel for a custom high performance barrel. But for most casual shooters, the Buck Mark Camper will give you hours and hours of fun pistol time and small game hunting ability without breaking the bank. With the gun starting at $299 and the .22 ammo still are reasonable prices, there's not many other options that make this much sense. Plus, if you want to add accessories, the Buck Mark Camper easily accepts an optional Weaver scope mount that will give you red dot or scoped accuracy.

There are only two .22 pistols I would really consider if in the market for a reasonably priced, rimfire fun gun and that's the Ruger Mark III or the Browning Buck Mark. Sure the Smith and Wesson has a lock in the competitive world but at $1,000 you could buy 3 Buck Marks and have enough money left over to buy 4,000 rounds of Federal .22 LR! How's that for value?

The Gun Owners Comments:
1) Why did you buy the gun? Purchased 9mm first (first time gun owner), went to the range, shot $20 for 100 rds, learned the math on ammo costs, decided I HAD to get a .22 pistol, searched all over the net, determined it was a Ruger MKIII or a Browning Buck Mark and went to Sportsman's Warehouse expecting to come home with a new gun (2nd). Cost $300 compared to $470 for a MKIII that I was also looking at. MKIII had extra mag, scope rail and extra color optical (red & green). The MKIII had a nice feel to it weight wise. It was the grip that ultimately made it final. To me it seemed so comfortable, I could shoot it all day. Picked up an extra mag on purchase.

2) How long have you owned the gun? 2 months (pushing 2,000 rounds)

3) How have your feelings for the gun changed in that time? Loving it. Glad I got it. I can't even try to count how many times I picked up the MKIII (The one Kennard bought) and Buck Mark before making my decision. In hopes of my wife being able to enjoy going to the range with me, I think she'll really like the grip and the lightness of the gun. But as a gun owning noob, I can't complain because I have a great, dependable .22 to plink with and learn technique on.

4) If you were faced with the purchase again would you buy that gun? Yes and No. For the "No" part I'd say that, to do it all over again, I might go for the hunter model seeing how it has the scope rail on it already. Maybe that's a bit picky seeing how I can buy a $30 scope rail for my camper. But, yes, it would still be the Buck Mark.

5) Best and worst of the gun? BEST: Optical front sight, grip, lightness, cheap .22 ammo, grip, safety for thumb rest/control, looks, grip (did I mention the new Buck Mark grip???) WORST: Not specific to my Buck Mark but loading .22 ammo (get a thumb saver), take down (need of tools), front screw comes loose during range time (~200 rds) on top sight part, taking out firing pin during take down, no allen wrench for barrel removal when purchased (floor model so might have been seller error)

6) Would you recommend the gun to others? Absolutely! I'm can't tell why I would try to convince anyone to spend $1,000 for a first time .22 pistol. This is just a view of someone that's new to gun ownership and not one from someone that knows so much about guns. 7) Any changes/mods planned? Thinking of getting a scope rail and red dot. Figuring I can quickly change from scope to sights easily while at the range.

8) What's in your sights (What's next)? Ruger LCP (carry) & custom 10/22 build.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

REVIEW: KIMBER Ultra Carry II with Crimson Trace Laser Grips

Not everyone carries a gun. More and more people are applying for and getting their carry permits but most of those people do it so that in the event they wanted to carry, they could. For many others, after trying it once, they just never actually feel comfortable walking around with a load gun. But for those that go through the legal process and get carry permit, one of the last pistol choices you might make for your hidden defense is a full sized model 1911.

The Kimber Ultra Carry II is a .45 cal. short barreled (3 inches vs. 5 inches in a full sized model) 1911 pistol designed specifically to be easily carried completely concealed. The model I bought came with Crimson Trace Laser Grips and Tritium night sights factory installed. Out of the box it is a perfect conceal carry defense weapon that will give you confidence in a wide variety of lighting conditions.

BTW, the II stands for generation 2. The new generation Kimber’s designated with a “II” have a safety feature that locks the firing pin in place until the palm safety is depressed. Some gun gurus in pistol forums complain about the feature and say it can cause misfires. After 1,500 rounds or more in my gun, I’ve never experienced a single problem with the added safety. Here’s a fact, with the new safety feature in place, if you ever accidentally drop your gun and it lands on the hammer it won’t fire. Period. What’s that worth to you? I like it.

Ok, why do I need a Laser Grip and glowing night sights? First off, cool factor! That's right I said it, how cool to have a pistol with those neat features. Show someone your pistol with a laser sighting system and you'll definitely hear, "Ooooh, aaaah, that's cool!" Second is function. Ok, I know function should be first on the list when purchasing a firearm but I'm a "Tim Allen" type American guy who grew in watching the ORIGINAL Star Trek and Star Wars and I like lasers and stuff.

Here's the function part. As I don’t mind admitting, I'm not a perfect shot. I want to be, but I'm far from it. Under the pressure and stress of small, local IDPA competitions (where I come in low on the scoring sheet) it gets even worse! So I can't imagine the stress of a life and death defense situation. The Crimson Trace Laser Grip is almost worthless on an open outdoor range but imagine fighting for your life in your own home or on a dark public parking garage. You may not have the luxury or the ability to get that perfect sight picture. In that case, squeeze the grip, the laser comes on, point the laser at your target and BANG! The laser wobbles around wildly from the recoil, center the red dot on your target again and BANG!! Breath. Blink. Asses your surroundings while keeping that bright red dot painted on your "ex"-attacker and your finger on the trigger until you're certain the threat is gone. Crimson Trace has an ad in American Handgunner Magazine that says, "The guy with the laser won." After using one, I believe it.

Remember though that lasers are battery operated mechanical/digital devises. Imagine you're in that dimly lit parking garage again and you’re aggressively approached by a masked figure that seems intent on causing you harm. You draw, bring the gun up, squeeze the grips...dead laser. Quickly focus your eyes onto the illuminated front sight and line up the bright Tritium dots and pull the trigger. We're talking about life-saving tools here. (NOTE: This is not legal advice or defense training. I’m only making a point and explaining the features on the handgun in review)

The last part of the function issue is the .45 cal. ammunition. You don't have to know much about guns to know that it's a big bullet that can quickly stop a life threatening situation. For defense, I keep Federal Hydra-Shok JHP (Jacketed Hollow Points) in the gun.

How does it feel in my hand? I have small hands so the compact grip (smaller than a full sized 1911) is nice. The magazine only holds 7 shots (vs. some full-sized models holding 8) but with .45 cal., that's enough. If I were to need more than 7+1 shots, since I'm not Mel Gibson, I figure I'm screwed anyway. The gun is isn't heavy but it's not light either. It's a very well balanced tool that achieves an almost perfect balance of size and weight.

To summarize the function: small gun, big bullet, point-and-shoot laser with backup night sights that constantly glow without needing to be charged with light first. What more could you want in a concealable defense pistol?

How does it shoot? Simply put, it kicks like mule. When I first bought the pistol, I couldn't wait to get out on the range and shoot the thing. The next day I drove to a local indoor range, carefully loaded the gun, leveled it off (laser on of course) and pulled the trigger. BOOOOM! Holy crap!! What had I done? That damn thing kicked so hard I was a bit afraid to pull the trigger again. I had to catch my breath, suck it up and do it again. This time I flinched so hard upon pulling the trigger the laser zig-zagged all over the place and I completely missed the target. Yea, it was that bad.

Not only did it kick, it jammed several times during that first range session. I was really feeling like I had wasted $1,000! That's a lot of freakin' money! Luckily I know people that are fantastic gun handlers. I learned that compact .45s need to help very firmly. "Limp wristing" will cause the gun to jam with regularity. Once I started gripping the gun tighter, the jamming disappeared (even before the end of the 500 round break-in period). Man, I felt much better about my gun!

So what good does a jamming, high tech, stealth .45 do you if you can't hit the broad side of a barn? Seriously, I was beginning to think that I would be better off defending myself with my $249 .22 cal. Beretta than with that stupid $1,000 hand-cannon. I had a bit of buyer's remorse. But read on...

I remember as a small boy shooting my dad's .22 revolver for the first time. No hearing protection, no Shoot N C targets. Dad just took me out to the desert and thought I'd enjoy shooting a gun. I didn't. That dang thing was loud and it almost kicked out of my hand. Now, a .22 feels like a Red Rider BB Gun. The reason? Perspective. As a kid I was accustomed to shooting toy guns so a .22 was a big deal. Now, I was accustomed to shooting a 9mm, a .22, a .38 special, etc so a .45 was a big deal. But after a few hundred rounds my perspective changed and now the .45 is easy for me to shoot. Yes, I said easy. No more flinching, no more fear of recoil, only a bit of inadvertent trigger push (that's another story).

Here are some questions I'll be asking people that let me test their guns:
1) Why did you buy the gun? - See above.
2) How long have you owned it? - 1 year.

3) How have your feelings for the gun changed in that time? - At first I thought I bought too much gun. Now after some practice, I shoot it well enough that I trust it could save my life and I shoot it well enough to have a lot of fun at the range.

4) If you were faced with the purchase again would you buy that gun? - No. I would buy the Kimber Ultra Carry CDP II and add Crimson Trace Laser Grips. The CDP has a few more custom features, like a checkered front strap (front of grip) and trigger guard that are beneficial for a hard kicking gun (learn from my experience here) and all the sharp edges are "rounded" off so the gun is super comfortable to carry. Check it out at .

5) Best and worst of the gun? – Best, the power to size ratio and cool factor. The worst is taking it apart to clean it for the first time. It sucks to disassemble at first but by your third cleaning, you’ll be able to do it with your eyes closed.

6) Would you recommend the gun to others? - Absolutely! It's a great shooting pistol with lots of built-in advantages. It comes ready to carry right out of the box without any modifications (and if held firmly it never jams or fails)! The Ultra CDP II with added Laser Grips would cost an extra $300+ (that’s over 1,000 rounds of Winchester target ammo).

Speaking of target ammo, does it hit targets? In short, yes. Remember this isn’t a "tack driving" target gun, it’s a defense gun. That being said, it has an amazing level of accuracy, for a short barreled pistol, that’s well beyond my ability. I did struggle with it at first but while at a training session I turned the gun over to a local firearms instructor and he put six shots into the center of a target 30 feet away in about three 2.5 seconds. So yes, it shoots. I can now consistently fill a 5" Shoot N-C target with holes at 10 yards without missing - with iron sights or laser.

The build quality of the gun is so good that I don't feel the need to elaborate too much on that topic. Rest assured that if you buy a Kimber (pistol, shotgun or rifle) you'll get a great firearm.
And when it comes to .45 caliber model 1911 pistols, Kimber has a fantastic reputation for quality, style and reliability.

Fun factor. I have gone from hating the recoil to loving to shoot the little beastie. Even after shooting 400 rounds in a ONE DAY defense class my hand felt fine (The next day my hand felt a bit stiff). I now consider the gun extremely fun to shoot and relish the days when I run 100 rounds through it. But that fun comes at a high price. As of today, September 2008, Wal-Mart has Winchester target ammo for $30 per box of 100. That's the best price anywhere. It gets expensive to shoot the gun on a regular basis but I manage to budget for a box a month or so. Fortunately I have a couple of .22s.

If you want to carry a .45, you won't be disappointed in the Kimber Ultra Carry II. If you can afford it, get the Kimber Ultra CDP and pay the $300 for the Crimson Trace Grips. If the thought of heavy recoil scares you, trust your instinct and get a compact 9mm. Kimber makes one of those too.

My wife says: "When I first saw the gun I thought it was small and cute. The laser was cool but I expected my gadget-loving husband to get something like that. After shooting the gun, I hate it. It's loud and it kicks way too hard for me. I'll stick with the .22."

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