Close Protection Articles

Optimal Weapon Features for
Concealed Carry


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Part of the duties and tasks that operators execute within their professional duties, which are based on the positive law regulations of the Republic of Serbia, demands concealed, inconspicuous weapon carry.

Mostly those are jobs and tasks of close protection of VIPs, items and objects of special significance, when it is important for operators to keep “low profile” as much as possible and therefore usually wear civilian clothes, without official insignias, or with small, discreet such as little icons on shirt collars, suits etc. It should be mentioned that in practice similar tasks can perform trained civilian personal (for example, employees at private security companies).

The specificity of the tasks and duties of this kind requires a different approach when choosing personal weapon and gear. In general, the choice in this area is narrowed by criterion that weapon, by its size must be suitable for concealed carry, beneath clothes. Thus, long-barrelled weapons such as assault rifles, are not rational choice for this purpose. However, it should be precisely said that assault rifles, and even light machine guns, are quite often choice of CAT (Engl. Contra Assault Team) teams for close protection, but here, although it comes to close protection, it is not a concealed carry. Similar goes for shotguns and moreover, gauge ballistics are one more reason why weapon from this category should not be used while performing tasks and duties that require concealed carry, because threats in these situations can often happen very close to VIPs, or other unwanted targets, so shotgun usage can endanger those people.

That said, it is logical to conclude that the choice of personal weapon usually comes down to weapons from categories of Submachine Guns, Personal Defence Weapon-PDW, as well as handguns, semi-automatic and automatic. Models from these categories (especially handguns) are, as a rule, very compact, thus suitable for concealed carry in specially made holsters or clothe pockets.

Submachine Guns and Personal Defence Weapon

When it comes to submachine guns and personal defence weapons, the biggest advantage of this type of weapon is good fire power that is given to a shooter through: full automatic fire as a rule[1], and bigger magazine capacity[2], comparing to handguns at first place.

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SMG HK MP5K in 9x19 mm Parabellum
Also, comparing to the latter, weapons of these categories have a greater effective range of fire and are more precise[3]. New generation models have, as a rule, very good ergonomics, which is an important criterion, basic commands are logically placed and here can be noticed similarity between Western models at one, and Eastern (Russian at first place) on the other side. Usage of composite materials in the process of weapons construction significantly reduces their total weight, making them easier to carry over time.

Personal defence weapons have, as a rule, more compact size comparing to classic submachine guns and specific calibers in addition. As for the bullet ballistics, the most important criteria are the stopping and penetration power at short and medium distances, considering that threats usually occur at close range in practice. Usage of most of these models require engaging both shooter`s hands, which can be aggravating circumstance when performing certain actions, for example, when there is a need to extract a certain person from a area of attack, or prevent him or her to run due to fear of the attackers. Of course, the efficiency of weapon usage largely depends on the level of training of the shooter, but no one could reasonably object the assertion that the SMG or PDW usage with both hands is really better option and a rule, and that unilateral usage of the weapon is performed only in extreme situations, based on the concrete circumstances. It is in these situations where an advantage go to shorter, lighter and easier to use weapons: semi-automatic and automatic handguns.

Semi-automatic and Automatic Handguns

It is right to say that weapon of this category is the most often choice when it comes to concealed carry. Handgun series are mostly made in calibers 9x19 mm Parabellum[4]/Luger, .40 S&W (Smith and Wesson), as well as .45 ACP (Engl. Automatic Colt Pistol).

Effective range of this type of weapon is limited to 50 meters, which mostly includes situations in which retainers and CAT face with threats to VIPs, items or objects of importance.

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Visual comparison of the pistol calibers (from left to right): 9x19 mm Parabellum/Luger, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. Photo: specijalne-jedinice.com

As for handguns construction, their sizes are significantly less than models of previously mentioned weapon categories and are ideal for concealed carry.

Along with this fact come large number of different gun holsters on market, intended for concealed carry, which are usually mounted on the belt or strap on the front or aside, or attached to the inner side of pants, then holsters that are mounted around shoulder, and lately, it can be noticed the growing practice of mounting a holster and gun across the shooter`s chest, so the gun is placed to the left or right side of the chest.

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Semi-automatic handgun Glock 17 Gen 3 in 9x19 mm Parabellum, holstered in concealed carry holster of the Israeli manufacturer Fobus. Photo: specijalne-jedinice.com

Holsters of this purpose must meet several criteria: first, they must provide relatively hidden, unobtrusive carry, then they must ensure safe carry, even with a bullet in chamber, and also must enable safe and quick draw[5], when needed. Compact size means less total weight of the weapon, which is certainly a positive feature, also supported by tendency of constructors to make frames of handguns from different types of polymers, which also increases weapon`s resistance to climatic conditions and similar.

The criterion that makes choice more complex is the capacity of magazine. Bigger capacity requires double-row magazine, which of course increase the width of a mag, and thus the width of the handgun. The wider the weapon, the more evident when carrying, for example under the T-shirt or a shirt. However, the bigger mag capacity gives the retainer more confidence[6], which could be the main criterion why most of specialists aim for models with big magazine capacity.



At the end, all technical-tactical characteristics should be put aside, and individualization of weapon should be aligned by the ergonomics criterion. The feeling that shooter gets when he takes a gun and operate with it must be primary standard when choosing a weapon, not only for the requirements of a concealed carry, but in general. The weapon should be chosen according to the size of the hands[7] of the shooter, with a particular attention to the handgrip, and placement of basic commands. If it does not fit ergonomically to the shooter`s hands, it will have negative impact on the usage and vice versa. Experiences of colleagues are certainly welcome, but only as an advice, because no one is the same: what suits one shooter, does not have to suit others. Therefore, it is the most rational for a shooter to tests a handgun model for a period of time and learns its features before final decision.

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Demonstration of the grip before drawing the weapon. Photo: specijalne-jedinice.com

In practice, for the purposes of close protection tasks and duties, it could be noted that Austrian Glock 17, the third and the fourth generation, in 9x19 mm Parabellum/Luger very used as a concealed weapon of retainers, as well as compact version Glock 19 in the same caliber. Also, other models are used, such as Glock 22, made in stronger pistol caliber .40 S&W. It is these models that are most common choice of the specialists within the Army of the Republic of Serbia, and Serbian Police. Moreover, retainers of the Counter Terrorist Unit-CTU (Serb. Protivteroristička jedinica-PTJ) of the Ministry of Interior while executing these tasks and duties have at their disposal well-known Italian models Beretta Px4 Storm in 9x19 mm Parabellum/Luger.

Published in "Military Technical Courier", scientific journal of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Serbia, No. 3, July-September 2015.

[1] Models intended for Military & Law Enforcement have full-auto mode as a standard, but those indended for civilian market usually have only semi-auto mode.
[2] For example, Belgian personal defence weapon FN P90 has magazine capacity of 50 bullets.
[3] Due to longer sight radius, which is enabled by longer length of the weapon as well as of the barrel.
[4] The name of the caliber comes from Latin proverb „Si vis pacem, para bellum“, which means "If you want peace, prepare for war".
[5] Technique and speed of weapon drawing from holster or pocket depends on the level of training and skills of the shooter, but manufacturers must simplify the construction of their products as well as weapon locking mechanism.
[6] Besides, retainers carry several (usually 2-3) reserve magazines.
[7] Many manufacturers within standard package deliver interchangeable pads in several sizes intended for adjusting width of the handgrip of the weapon in order to suit the size of shooter`s hand.

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