CCW: Full Sized Vs Sub Compact


August 30, 2007, 06:01 PM
I am working on my CC rig and I recently decided not to carry my P2000sk ( I plan on trading it in for a P226R ( that I will carry with a blade tech holster.

Every sub compact I have ever tried to shoot has made me uncomfortable. I just have not gotten used to shooting with such a short grip. I understand that I may one day find myself shooting in all manner of uncomfortable ways to save my life but I think I would like to feel as confident as possible with my CCW. Granted I shot less than a box of ammo though the P2000sk I have spent much more time with other sub compacts and I run into the same problem with them all. I just don't feel good about the way I shoot sub compacts.

So I have decided to attempt to carry a full sized pistol.

Help me out Highroaders, am I doing the right thing? Should I keep trying with different small pistols or should I just carry a full sized? Is it really that much harder? An inch here and a half there plus a little more weight, is it really that bad?

General Comments?

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August 30, 2007, 06:05 PM
An inch here or there made a huge difference for me, so I went for the shortest grip on a gun I'd consider reasonable for carry. I carry it with flush mags since even the pinky extension makes it print like crazy. I'm also pretty short and refuse to wear hawaiian shirts. YMMV.

August 30, 2007, 06:06 PM
I think you gotta do what you feel most comfortable doing.

Weight will increase with a full size pistol though... make sure you got a good belt.

I carry a full size 1911 sometimes, and it can get heavy. Makes me want to look for an aluminum or polymer framed 1911 with a 4" barrel. But that's me.

Good luck.:)

August 30, 2007, 06:10 PM
Full size 1911 carried here. No real issues. When my clothing choice, or my laziness of not wanting to "gear up" come in to play I carry a Kel Tec P11 in a DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster. So far, so good.

I find that I carry each about the same amount.

August 30, 2007, 06:22 PM
split the difference and get a USP Compact or a P2000. they're in between the two you listed size wise. there's tons and tons of options between full size sub-compact. how about a Kahr? thats a good compromise too. so is G19/23, P228/229, XD Compacts etc etc.


August 30, 2007, 06:56 PM
I think your question is a very good one. It seems to me that you are not comfortable with the subcompact because you don't shoot it as well. My last trip to the range I was reminded of the same thing, I first shot my Mill Pro in 9mm, then my XD45compact, then a full size all steel Baby Eagle in 9mm. I shot my Mill Pro fine, my XD quite well and my Beagle very well. I had don't this before and on one occasion the first thing I did after shooting was order a IWB holster for my Baby Eagle.
I would assume that almost everyone shoots a full size better than a compact. It is a matter of compromise between size, comfort, capacity, power and weight. You have to be comfortable with what you choose and much of that depends on what you wear and your method of carry. For me the compromise I choose most often is my XD, but I sometimes need to change that depending on what I wear.
I think you'll find that you can make the Sig work and it will probably work well but you may need to adjust your method or get a better holster or belt, that depends on what you are comfortable with. Make sure you think long and hard before you sale a gun, you don't want any regrets. Hope this helps.
Good Luck and Be Safe!

August 30, 2007, 07:56 PM
A good holster makes a lot of difference. I have carried a full size Auto for several years. I started with cheap holsters and tried a lot of different ways of carrying. What I have wound up with is a Milt Sparks VM2HS and I carry full time and very comfortably. I carry IWB under a untucked shirt.

Deaf Smith
August 30, 2007, 08:34 PM
Get a sub compact. You just won't carry the full sized one 7/24 summer and winter. My Glock 26 is a constant companion. I'd hate to drag around some heavy piece all day.

August 30, 2007, 09:01 PM
I carry a Sig P229 without too much problem, although I don't worry about printing as much with my P239. I do agree that what ever you carry, if it's big and heavy, get a good belt and holster. I use a belt from The Beltman, and VMII's from Milt Sparks for both of the Sigs.
I wouldn't completely give up on the sub compacts. There are times when I pocket carry a PM9 or a Keltec P3AT. They will get the job done. They are just not 50 yard guns.When I practice with the Keltec, it is usually at about 5 yards or less, and I don't worry about putting 50 rounds through 1 hole.

August 30, 2007, 09:24 PM
You just won't carry the full sized one 7/24 summer and winter.
I have for about 30 years now. I really dont find it any harder to carry a full sized pistol than a smaller one, and sometimes, I'm more self conscious with the smaller gun. Once you find a holster and belt your comfortable with, and learn to dress and carry yourself, you can carry pretty much anything you want with little difficulty.

I'd much rather work a little (not that I really have to) at carrying a gun that is easier to shoot well with and carries a full load of ammo, than to deal with basically the same thing, but with less gun. There just really isnt all that much difference size wise between most of the full size and compacts.

August 30, 2007, 10:12 PM
There just really isnt all that much difference size wise between most of the full size and compacts.

That is what I was thinking. I already have a belt from the beltman, I just need a good holster.

August 31, 2007, 08:14 AM
I also split the difference and went with an XD 45 compact. In winter, I carry it as a full size with the 13 round magazines. When it gets super hot (for about 3 weeks in the summer), I switch to an XD 9 subcompact. I guess you could say that I carry a subcompact, compact, and full size depending on the weather.

August 31, 2007, 08:23 AM
Is the P226 a single stack? I have a P220, P229 Elite in .40 cal, P239 in .40 cal, P245 and GRS. With the exception of the P229, all the others are single stacks. I have found that for me, the printing that comes from the thickness of a double stack is much more of an issue than length and height. I can carry my P220 just as easily as my P239 and P245 but the latter two options are more comfortable, especially when movement (such a bending and sitting) is an issue. You might consider shecking out the P239 or, if you like .45 cal, the P245/P220 Carry.

August 31, 2007, 10:33 AM
I carry a mid size Glock 23. A good holster and belt make all the differance in the world. I second the Milt Sparks Versa Max II. I have carried a Beretta 92F and Full Size Colt 1911 in the past. The Glock 23 works better and it is issued to me.

August 31, 2007, 05:45 PM
Is the P226 a single stack?
The 226 is double stack. I have both the 220 and 226, and have carried both, and see no difference. In fact, both fit the same holster.

SIG's really differ little in size between the models, the exception being the P230/232. At most, its just a half inch here and there.

Same goes for 1911's. Other than barrel length and maybe a half inch in grip length, the bulk of the gun is about the same.

August 31, 2007, 06:40 PM
I have tried compacts they just aren't for me. The smallest pistol I carry concealed is a Sig P229, I also carry a XD 45 ACP and a Ruger P90 from time to time with no problems, conceal with just an untucked polo and have concealed with a dark / printed tee-shirt.

The biggest thing is a good belt and a good holster, without those two things you'll have trouble concealing a pistol of any size. I carry anytime I'm not at work or sleeping.

I use a Haugen Handgun Leather holster but Galco makes a good quality, more mass produced set of holsters.

August 31, 2007, 07:20 PM
There are three sizes for handguns: Fullsize, Compact and SubCompact.

I'd recommend checking out one in a Compact size like a Hk P2000 or Glock 19.

August 31, 2007, 08:01 PM
The Taurus Mil Pro PT145 is a nice compromise between size, capacity & power.

August 31, 2007, 09:50 PM
dbl post

September 1, 2007, 01:11 AM
I'd recommend checking out one in a Compact size like a Hk P2000 or Glock 19.

The size difference between a full sized and a compact is even less, I find it even harder to justify a compact over a full sized when the difference is so minimal.

September 1, 2007, 01:01 PM
i carry a 5" 1911, with H&D Dakota Defender, and have no problems. Like the majority of posts here, get a good belt and comfortable holster, and you'll be fine.

September 1, 2007, 01:31 PM
I carry a 5" 1911 in an IWB holster and don't have any problem with it. I actually find it easier to carry than my old 4013 TSW compact that weighs half as much because my 1911 is thin and the long slide spreads the weight out nicely. I carry my Gov't model under a normal T-shirt 90% of the time and have never had anyone find it, even when asked to guess where it is. I think people would find carrying less of a hassle if they tried a flat gun like a 1911 or Kahr and a quality IWB holster. I don't have to wear button-up shirts or jackets or hokey vests to conceal a serious fighting arm.


September 1, 2007, 02:27 PM
I carried a fullsize 1911 (5'9 165lbs) for the first month for the same reason as you've mentioned. I just didn't like compact guns. After about a month of lugging that thing around I shot a buddies G27 (with the pinky ext) and went right out and bought one. So, you're preferences might change (or not), nothing's set in stone. Good luck!

September 1, 2007, 10:22 PM
Went to by the gun store today and took a look at a M&P full sized and a compact. Huge difference(sorry CountGlockula). The compact seemed a good size. When I get some money together (read: pay my bills) I just may go and buy one.

Thanks Guys!

September 2, 2007, 05:16 AM
It takes time to figure out the the various methods and locations of where to carry what with your own body. That said, I can comfortably and effectively conceal my G17, G26, and 1911 in roughly the same place on my belt but with different holster cants. If I knew now that this was the case, I probably wouldn't even own the G26.

September 3, 2007, 01:56 AM
For me, the smallest I'll carry is a j-frame and in a semi auto, something a little more mid size like a Glock 19, commander size 1911 or USPc. Currently, I'm kinda torn between my fave 1911 vs. something much lighter like one of my polyguns...bottom line tho, it really comes down to what you like & what you can carry comfortably ;)

September 3, 2007, 08:30 PM
I think it totally depends on body type and mode of dress. I carry my P2000SK with a 13rd mag and Xgrip giving it the same grip as the regular 2000, but slightly shorter barrel. The benefit is longer grip which should be easier to grab. I carry IWB with VMII. You can shoot it at the range with the extended mags and get comfy enough with the short mags. I find the flat base plate mags more comfy than the stock mags.

Check out the longer mags w/ Xgrip or flat based mags b4 you trade her. Get them at CDNN.

September 4, 2007, 08:31 AM
Full sized 1911 requires a gun belt, something like the ones Dillon sells, that look like dress belts, but are much stiffer.

September 4, 2007, 09:18 AM
I've carried a full-size 1911 for years, either in a shoulder rig, IWB, or MOB. All provide good access & concealability, depending on activity & situation. On occasion, I do carry a sub 9, usually as a BUG. Whatever you choose, practice to become proficient. And remember: Belts -- they don't just hold-up trousers anymore . . .

September 6, 2007, 11:58 PM
The way I see it is that if you are going to dress around the gun than dress around a larger one. Obviously, there's a point of diminishing return, but most people can conceal "full sized" guns just fine.

Now if you're not planning on dressing around the gun then your in pocket, ankle, or other deep cover territiory and yea, you're going to have to go smaller with the guns.

But we all knew that because it isn't rocket science, right?

September 7, 2007, 12:24 AM
Dean407 has a good plan.

General comments:
I've recently converted from primary carry of the P2000 SK to the Glock 19.
The G19 is lighter, holds more rounds, is the same size, has better balance and has a full grip. My only complaint with the Glock is the el-crapo trigger guard which gives me GlockFinger (pains the knuckle of the middle finger) which I'm in the process of rectifying with judicious use of the Dremel tool.

After some trigger modifications, accuracy is now about the same between the two. Mag insertion is nicer with the Glock.

Best of luck Monkeybear.

September 7, 2007, 02:23 AM

Actually I went to a gun shop this weekend and I asked about any CZs that the seller might have. He mentioned that he did not have any love for CZs but that he sold Glocks. I said, well then show me a 9mm Glock compact. He gave me a Glock 19 and I actually really like it. I have fired a Glock 26 and hated it more than anything else I have ever pulled the trigger on.

I was thinking about getting a CZ P-01, because it is so close to the CZ75 format that I love only smaller. The only thing that worries me is the rubber grips and hammer getting caught in my clothes. Now I think I may look into the Glock. Top Gun Shooting Range rents out Glock 19s so I'll rent one and see how I like it.

September 7, 2007, 04:02 PM
Without bothering to read the whole thread,

I am sometimes baffled by the 'carry gun' culture that has been created since so many states went CCW. I suppose I'm not baffled so much as annoyed.

This is the tool you are trusting your life with. Why would you use anything other than the gun you shoot the very best? For MOST of us, this means a full-size pistol. Heavier guns have less recoil, and longer sight radius, thus increasing the likelihood of good repeated hits.

COMFORT is a very distant second priority to me. The way the gun magazines say it, if a normal sized person carries a full-sized auto, they will lose their balance when they walk down the street, and if they carry a compact, they will forget it's there. My experience has shown neither of these to be true. If you give a petite female who has never carried before a sub-compact Glock to put in her waistband, she will absolutely know it's there. If you get a mall ninja who is brimming with joy because precisely four weeks ago he turned 21 and got his permit in the mail today, you can hang a full-size Desert Eagle under his left armpit and he will swear he doesn't feel it, because he's so exited he's allowed to carry.

I think a lot of it is marketing between the mags and the manufacturers. They try to convince us that you need different guns for every facet of your life. I carry a good full-size 1911, the same for open-carry, concealed carry in ANY weather, (improvise, adapt, overcome) outdoor activity, and if I were allowed, I would carry it to war. Pick your best caliber, in the best platform that works best for YOU. You said you are already used to .45, so look at Sigs, H&Ks, Glocks, 1911s, etc in that caliber.

September 8, 2007, 01:59 AM
Some good points, mljdeckard.

I often wish I could find the "one" sidearm for all occasions.

September 8, 2007, 03:51 AM
mljdeckard- I agree completely. I fell under the notion that if it wasn't as small as possible that I would never be able to conceal it and would succumb to discomfort causing me to leave it at home. Obviously the most important thing is whether I will be able to, and I truly hope that I never have to, be able to protect my loved ones or myself with it.

While function is the most important part, concealment is a requirement. While I have decided to carry a larger platform I would still like to be able to conceal in accordance with Texas law at least somewhat comfortability in 100+ weather with 90% humidity.

I have spent some time at gun stores with the Glock 19, FNP-9 and the Walther P99. I would still like to carry something as light and concealable as possible without sacrificing my ability to shoot it confidently. I like them all but I haven't actually shot any. Aside from that it seems to me that the Glock 19 would be the easiest to conceal and the Walther would be the most ergonomic. The FNP-9 seems a good middle ground and like all compromises it isn't very exiting.

September 8, 2007, 10:20 AM
I'm waiting for the PX4 Storm Sub to arrive. Supposed to be a good shooter, as well as a good carrier, at least according to Guns and Ammo (and they would never steer me wrong :rolleyes:)

September 8, 2007, 11:26 AM
You'll get all sorts of guru advice to carry a full size and bare the pain. You may do that for some years. But, at some point, you're going to figure out what a PITA it is and you're going to figure out how effective some of the little pocket sized subcompacts and small revolvers are and once you do and get a subcompact and find out how easy it is to tote, you'll put your full sized gun in the safe.

Just my personal experience. You don't need no 1911 to defend yourself. A Kahr or Kel Tec or Smith and Wesson J frame in a pocket beats a 40+ ounce gun you left in the car.

September 8, 2007, 12:01 PM
FWIW, I carry a 229 all the time here in Texas. I just throw a button up shirt over it and I'm fine. I carry it in a Milt Sparks VMII, which I'd highly recommend. they're the best I've found for IWB carry, hands down. A 226 or 220 will fit just as well in my holster (pretty much) and conceal just as nicely.

September 8, 2007, 05:01 PM
I've been carrying for 12 years, and never for one second have I thought that a smaller gun is a good trade off for the gun I handle and shoot the absolute best. If I wasn't committed to the idea of doing "whatever is necessary" to defend my life, I shouldn't carry at all.

My back is just fine.

One point that might make my situation a little different is that in Utah, we are not required to conceal. If I have ever flashed or printed, I'm not aware of it, but I don't really have to worry about it as much.

September 8, 2007, 06:01 PM
Sometimes, mere 1/10th of an inch can make something perceptively more comfortable, whether its a bit smaller to ease concealment, or a bit larger to make it more comfortable to grip when shooting. With carry rigs, a slight change in angle or position can make an enormous different in concealment or comfort. We are also built differently, which causes different weapons to jab us in different places. The FBI tilt causes most grips to jab me in the ribs, so I tend to like straight-draw, or nearly so, yet with straight-draw, pistols such as Glocks and the HK P7, with large squared-off protrusions at the rear of the slide, will jab me in the ribs with their slides. I would rather carry a full-sized 1911 in a vertical scabbard, than a Baby Glock in just about any strong-side-hip rig! I generally like to carry full-sized weapons as much as possible, and have in the past concealed my 4" S&W M58 .41 mag duty revolver IWB, because it was either that or my J-frame snubby. (I was a broke rookie cop back then.) Longer weapons are sometimes more stable than shorter ones; I found the 4" N-frame more stable than a later-purchased 3" N-frame, and when worn IWB, the 3" poked me in a certain spot, whereas the longer weapon bridged over that spot, causing no discomfort. I noticed the same thing with 1911 pistols; a Government-sized 1911 is comfortable IWB, whereas a Officer's ACP-sized 1911 jabs me with its muzzle. I no longer own the 3" N-frame nor the Officer's ACP. I seem to have rambled a bit, but just wanted to share some experience, as I have carried concealed for nearly a quarter-century, and experimented quite a bit with small, compact, and full-sized handguns. FWIW, I am of thin build, and carry in a hot climate.

September 8, 2007, 06:28 PM
I just got one of the HK p7psp imports that are available now.WOW carries like a compact shoots like a full size.If you can try one.

September 8, 2007, 06:30 PM
My most carried is a S&W 66-1 3"bbl, in an IWB DeSantis. :D
Bug is a Kel-tec PF9 in a uncle mike's cheap holster.

September 8, 2007, 10:20 PM
The original poster said he shoots better with full size guns than subcompacts, and is moving to a Sig P226 from an H&K P2000sk. Of course the Sig is also a lot heavier, maybe 34 ounces empty (I own one) vs. 22 ounces for the P2000sk. Could it be the weight, rather than the dimensions, that make the Sig easier for him to shoot well? Weight steadies a gun and absorbs recoil, I think.

I have guns of all weights and always find the heavier ones easiest to shoot well. I have the most trouble shooting a S&W 642, which weighs 15 ounces empty. It seems to move all around as I try to aim, and has a heavy DAO trigger which also moves the gun as I pull it.

Some guns are dimensionally small, or sub compact, while having substantial weight. These might give the best combination of small size for concealment with lots of inertia for a steady shooting platform. Something in all steel with a smooth trigger would fit this spec.

Here are two candidates - both subcompact - a steel Kahr K40 which weighs 26 ounces empty, and a steel Colt Officer's model which weighs 30 ounces empty. Both are slim and concealable with good smooth triggers and slim profile.

September 8, 2007, 10:38 PM
with a good belt and holster, a full size, or compact pistol carries just fine. 6 of 1, half-dozen of another in my opinion. my sp101 or sig p220 both carry fine in a belt hostler. the problem comes when dress or laziness doesn't permit carry a large, or even ~compact pistol. in those cases i carry a j-frame that fits a pocket or easily conceals on the ankle.

i definitely think the sub-compact would be carried more often and provide more carry configuration options. if you don't shoot a sub-compact well, then my suggestion is practice. .38 and 9mm are cheap to practice with. i wish i could say i always carry my .45, but truth is my .38 is more often with me when i go for a quick trip to the grocery store.

i think the sub-compact is a great option to have.

September 9, 2007, 05:00 AM
After reading the original post, here's my $0.02 on the subject.

I carry a "Full Size" and a "Compact" daily. having been in two "encounters" I can personally testify to the fact that no gun is too big when the fecal matter hits the rotating thing and you can never have too much ammo.

Of course, my daily Off-Duty Carry is a pair of Revolvers. :)


Ala Dan
September 9, 2007, 08:01 AM
I like the 5" barrel, due to the longer sight radius. If the weapon were ever
needed (and I hope it isn't}, that automatically gives you somewhat of what
we call a "Tactical Advantage". Sure, I own a 3" Kimber sub-compact, but
my main "go to" gun is a 5" Les Baer Thunder Ranch Special in .45 ACP!;)

XD-40 Shooter
September 9, 2007, 10:01 AM
I have a Taurus Millenium Pro 40 that is my CCW. This gun is considered a "compact" and I think its the ideal size. The barrel is 3.25" and it has a finger pad on the magazines, so I can have a complete grip, no pinky hanging off.:p In my opinion, these guns are the ideal size for CCW, not a true sub-compact, but big enough to get a full grip on and be accurate with, but small enough to carry.:D

September 9, 2007, 12:55 PM
I've carried Government 1911s with just a t-shirt and shorts. Gotta have a good belt (not necessarily a gun belt) and IWB holster.

My current CCW is a Springfield V10 Ultra Compact (Officer Model size) with lightweight frame.

Try a S&W 1911 with Scandium frame. Weighs a lot less. You can even get it bobtailed.

September 10, 2007, 09:13 PM
Not really into 1911s or any gun with a safety lever for that matter.

September 10, 2007, 10:06 PM
For the most part, with me smaller is better. My H&K USP45C was bought expressly for carry and it's been carried very little. Far too big for my comfort. Now, it's mostly Kimber Ultra CDP .45, Glock 26, and KelTec P32. Heavy emphasis on the P32, as it's my always gun. Flush mount mags, always. Vacationing changes it up some, as does cold weather, but this is the norm. Something else could come along and toss a wrench in all this, but hey, that's why we keep buying, right?

September 10, 2007, 11:37 PM
I personally thought CCWing chopped down "sub-compacts" like XD-SC, G26/27, etc is kinda dumb. Sure theres half an inch chopped off the barrel and grip, but the darn things are still downright bulky and fat. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that IMO if you are going to carry a "sub-compact" you might as well put up w/ the full size version like an XD service or G19,23. From personal experience with all these weapons, I don't find the sub-compacts any more comfortable to carry than the full-size versions due to the fact that they are STILL fat and heavy.

Now a TRUE sub-compact carry weapon like a Kahr, Kel-tec, etc is a completely different story. They are SIGNIFICANTLY lighter and thinner, and make carrying a weapon a total joy instead of a burden.

September 11, 2007, 05:37 AM
pogo2 mentioned weight, and I agree, and want to add balance to the equation. I used to have a Les Baer Concept 1911, (I do not recall which exact one in the Concept series) which was Commander-sized, with the aluminum alloy frame. Offhand, one hand or two, I was not very accurate with it; far less accurate than with a 5"-barreled all-steel 1911. I could hunker down on a sandbag rest, and shoot amazingly tiny groups, so the intrinsic accuracy was there. I ended up trading that lightweight Baer 1911, and later ended up with my present Les Baer Thunder Ranch, which is VERY accurate offhand. The 2-dot tritium rear sight is not the best for me, and I should improve once I replace that rear sight with a plain black Novak or MMC that uses the Novak cut in the slide. I did my best offhand 1911 shooting in my life with a Kimber Stainless Gold Match, with its copy of a Bomar rear sight, though I got rid of the that Kimber due to horrendous functioning problems. It would be interesting to try a full-sized 1911 with a light alloy frame, to get lighter weight while still having the balance less centered in the grip area.

September 11, 2007, 05:21 PM
Why would you use anything other than the gun you shoot the very best?

Perhaps because a Walther GSP isn't exactly the last word in stopping power.

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