By Andrew Scott, CEO
Recently I read an American Rifleman article about how to care for your Defensive Handgun, or what I will call your everyday carry gun, or EDC. Maintaining your EDC is just as important as remembering to put it on before you walk out the door, it’s not going to do you any good if it’s left on the night stand, and it’s not going to do you any good if it doesn’t go BANG! With that said, I have to disagree with many of the points that the author’s article makes.
Right off the bat, this article began to grate on my every nerve. The first sentence goes “One thing’s for sure: Good-quality defensive handguns aren’t cheap” ending with an embedded hyperlink to an article for the “Kimber Custom Shop Super Carry Ultra.” This bugged the shit right out of me for two reasons: #1 you don’t have to blow $1,600 to get a “good-quality defensive handgun” and stating that you do might scare away people who are researching their first EDC. #2 I love my Kimber, but how redundant can you be with the name of your gun? “Custom Shop Super Carry Ultra” is almost as bad as Behr’s “Premium Plus Ultra All In One Primer and Paint”. Cut it out.
In one aspect, guns aren’t cheap, period. But you don’t have to go straight to a $1,600 “super ultimate ultra mega awesome magnum edition” for your EDC, you can pick up good, reliable handguns starting at around $350-$400 brand new. While I’m absolutely a Glock fan, Springfield XD’s and Smith and Wesson M&P’s are both excellent choices for around $500-$600 (and of course that’s not an all-inclusive list). If that’s a little out of your price range I’d recommend something that sacrifices ergonomics and butter-smooth triggers for a lower price, without sacrificing reliability. The Ruger P series (P85, P89 or P95) are great entry level guns, in fact a Ruger P89 was my first ever handgun. The ergonomics aren’t really present at all, and the trigger isn’t great, hell it’s not even good, but those pistols are workhorses that will function with phenomenal reliability.
The next part of the article I wholeheartedly agree with. The author talks about how you should be able to field strip your EDC, and you should clean it and lubricate it with some regularity. Not only will this keep your pistol running smooth and prevent corrosion, it also serves to help you familiarize yourself with your weapon, which is an absolute must. When you regularly unload, strip, clean, reassemble (I like to throw in some dry-fire training at this point) and then reload your weapon, you’ll be that much more confident that it is in the correct status and ready to function should you ever need to draw it.
But then the author starts going a little crazy. He recommends that if you shoot an automatic that you should change the recoil with some regularity, saying that 1911 recoil springs should be changed every 2,000 to 5,000 rounds, and a “1911 custom gunsmith” recommended changing it every 1,000 rounds.
Look, if your pistol is that picky, it shouldn’t be your EDC. I have better things to do than to keep a round count on my latest recoil spring, and if the day ever comes where I need to draw my EDC on someone, the last thing I want running through my mind is “oh crap, when did I last change my recoil spring?” This is a prime example as to why I don’t recommend 1911’s for EDC, no, not even the $1,600 super ultra-oh never mind you get it. Get a firearm that could be beaten up to all hell and still function properly, like those mentioned above. If your gun won’t function properly because you took it to the range twice without replacing a part, or you’re using X brand ammo, or Y brand gun oil, or because Mars is aligned with Saturn and it’s the third Monday after the summer solstice, it shouldn’t be your EDC. When it comes to your EDC, functionality is the primary attribute you’re looking for.
Next the author states that you should replace your ammo regularly, he does so 3 times a year. This, once again, is completely crazy in my opinion. No, you shouldn’t keep the same 16 bullets loaded up for 50 years, but replacing them 3 times a year is incredibly excessive. We’re not putting mercury or other corrosive causing substances in defensive ammunition any more; it will last for years and years and still function exactly the same as the day it came off of the manufacturing line.
However, I would recommend shooting off at least a couple of magazines worth of your defensive ammunition of choice before you start carrying it. You don’t need to take out a second mortgage on your home and buy 1,000 rounds of Speer Gold-Dots or Federal HST’s and shoot them all before your can be comfortable with it, 20-30 rounds is fine. You’re simply checking that your gun will, in fact, shoot and cycle that ammunition properly and that you are comfortable shooting it. If the load is so powerful that it knocks the weapon out of your grip, pick a different round.
He wraps up his recommendation list by saying he keeps an oil rag next to his nightstand and wipes his EDC down at the end of every day. Besides raising some OCD concerns I have about this guy, it’s not something I would recommend period. You’re entering the territory of over-lubrication, even though it’s just the exterior being wiped down. Excess oil attracts dirt and debris, increasing the likelihood of a malfunction. He claims he does this and as a result he has “guns that are 40 and 50 years old and look like they are almost new.” For your safe-queen guns, I get it, for your EDC, I don’t. I view my EDC like I view off-road vehicles: If the paint isn’t scratched, you ain’t using it right. You should have your EDC on you whenever it’s legally possible, that the whole point, it’s not going to go through years of getting dragged around for 16 hours a day and look brand new. Moreover, you should be shooting your EDC so often that it looks as haggard and mean as Clint Eastwood in “Gran Torino”.
My friend Nik put it best when I was whining about a scratch on my brand new, first ever AR-15:
“That’s not a scratch, that’s character!”
So, in conclusion, buy a gun that’s more reliable than a 1989 Toyota Pickup, don’t break the bank (what good is a pretty gun when you can’t afford ammo?), keep it clean and well maintained, use the piss out of it, and carry it with you everywhere.
And always remember, just because your friend’s got a friend whose brother’s former college roommate knows this armorer who said you should do X, Y and Z, it doesn’t mean you should really do X, Y and Z. There are more old wives tales floating around the firearms community than in the last season of Ghost Hunters.
If you want to read the full article, here it is:
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