No X-Ray Vision

As it says in the book, other people do not have X-ray vision. You just think they must when you’re first walking around in public with a gun.

With my Kahr K40 or my Taurus 85 in my pocket with these particular denim shorts, I feel like I’m blatantly obvious. The weight slams into my leg with every step, I can see the fabric bunching up strangely, and worst, the pocket tends to gape and the outer lip gets pulled down by the weight in the pocket. Looking down, I can often see the handle just below the lip of the pocket. When I sit down it makes a huge lump, and often slides off sideways, twisting the fabric around strangely.

I started this project to try to photograph these particular problems, as part of my ongoing dialog about “people are different”. (“No, really. More than you think. More than that even.”) Probably having another photographer would help. But the results I got on my own are somewhat interesting — as a demonstration of how much more obvious these things are to me than to people looking on.

So, which is which?

It’s a bit more obvious from your own perspective — straight above the pocket, looking down. The first one shows a really clear case of the lip of the pocket being dragged in by the weight hanging in the lining. In the second two you can actually see bits of the handle of the gun. And the third one isn’t from my own position, it’s from close in and out in front — pretty much where somebody else’s head would be if they were standing there talking to you.

(In the first set of examples, it’s no, yes, yes, no. But I can’t now reconstruct which was the Kahr K40 and which was the Taurus 85. In both cases they’re in the Uncle Mike’s Sidekick pocket holster that I reviewed yesterday.)

This is also probably useful in learning what to look for in others — although that’s a sport, I think, more than it’s a useful skill. I suspect what the key things to look for are varies widely (or even wildly) with style and cut of the clothing. In this particular pair of pants, what’s obvious is the weight of the gun pulling down the lip of the pocket.

Women at a Disadvantage?

Stylish women are at a considerable disadvantage in regards to carrying. I very frequently see women wearing pants that I’m absolutely sure aren’t concealing a gun, in the pocket, inside the waistband, or anywhere else. (I’ve never actually seen anybody try to wear Thunderwear under pants that tightly fitted, but given the details of anatomy revealed I believe a gun in Thunderwear would be quite obvious.) Similarly, many of their pants, skirts, and dresses don’t have pockets, or have small useless pockets. Bare midriffs pretty much sink any hope of IWB carry even with looser pants. Of course with other styles of dress all these options open up again. The advice to “dress around the gun” applies to both sexes. But I think people in general pay more attention to how women are dressed.

Shallow Concealment

People talk about “deep cover” and sometimes “deep concealment”, so there must be such a thing as “shallow concealment” (or “lite”). Since Minnesota law doesn’t require concealment at all, perhaps styles will trend that way after a while — maybe not worrying if the muzzle of your 45 shows from under your vest when you bend over, or your Taurus 85 is visible if you look down into the pocket it’s in. People already mostly don’t worry about a mysterious loop around your belt (connected to an IWB tucked under your shirt). Maybe they’ll stop worrying about the loop matching the belt color.

Then there’s the North American Arms belt buckle gun.

I doubt we’ll see women wearing shoulder holsters under sheer blouses, though.

Business Meeting

Today I went armed to a business meeting for the first time. With the Kahr in the pocket of the shorts, as pictured above. Nothing interesting happened. (Joel and I were placing a series of ads in Citypages for carry courses, but the person we were talking to never asked if we were carrying, and my mind-reading skills never caught him wondering particularly loudly. Look for “Need a Carry Permit?” for 6 weeks starting 2-Jul-2003.)

I haven’t yet encountered a “posted” location while armed, or planned to avoid one I already knew about. There’s only one location I’ve frequently gone that is now posted, that I’ve noticed. I do, however, have my plans in place for securing my weapon in the car if I do need to. It’s an interim plan, and I should work on upgrading it.

By the way, that very stiff (and very nice) Galco gun belt in the pictures is also a bit of a giveaway to anybody who is paying attention.

Review of Uncle Mike’s Sidekick

Uncle Mike’s makes a large variety of holsters, and they’re widely carried in stores, and they’re quite cheap. Nothing to complain about in any of that!

I’ve got their Sidekick (size 3) pocket holster. It’s supposed to be the right size for my Taurus 85 revolver and my Kahr K40 semi-auto. It’s really cheap — about $13.

By my standards, it doesn’t really fit the Taurus. The trigger guard isn’t really covered. And the revolver is not held firmly in place, and will wiggle considerably (and hence work its way out a little).

It fits the Kahr K40 much more nicely. But I find the Kahr a rather heavy lump in my pocket.

It’s also not wide enough, and not stiff enough. In the last picture, note that the corner is bent up. This is the result of using it around the house some for a couple of months, plus one walk around the block. With the corner bent like that, the Taurus is already starting to rotate some in my pocket; and revolvers aren’t nearly as butt-heavy as automatics are, so they don’t have as much tendency to tip.

In the cheap denim shorts I’m wearing today, the pocket hangs rather strangely when there’s the weight of a gun in it. It’s also a rather big lump bumping against my thigh, sliding off my thigh when I’m sitting in a chair, and just a big lump generally. It looks kinda rectangular, though, not particularly like a gun.

I think when I figure out which of my larger guns I’m going to carry in my pockets sometimes, I’m going to be shopping for some more specialized and more stable pocket holsters.

My History With Handguns


I’ve been shooting for something like 25 years, but I still started late. I never shot anything as a child (though I came close to owning a .410 shotgun at one point, by inheritance). I really got started around 1978, by some friends I’d met through the Minnesota Science Fiction Society (not, in general, a group heavily populated by hunters or shooters at that time).

I found I rather liked shooting, and the tech that went with it. Reloading was interesting, and understanding how guns worked was interesting. It’s a great geeky hobby, even if you don’t get into it very deeply.

I also found that a lot of similar techniques came into shooting and photography (a hobby I’d already had for years). In both, it’s important to hold something steady, pointed in the direction you want, and push a button or pull a lever to tell the device to do whatever it does without disturbing that pointing. Some of the same sling techniques used to steady a rifle in off-hand shooting can be used with cameras. All of the breath-control ideas transfer both directions.

Not so long after that, I bought a Ruger Mk I (.22) and a Ruger Security Six in .357 Magnum. I shot mostly at “The Gunnery”, a range in the basement of the VFW on 36th St. near Hwy. 100 (long gone; moved and changed hands and in some sense the successor is now the Burnsville Pistol Range, my current favorite place to shoot).

I even did a small amount of reloading, and some bullet casting, with a friend who did that.


When I moved to Massachusetts in 1981, I chose to sell my guns to friends rather than worry about the complexities of transporting them. In Massachusetts I did buy a Colt Mk IV Series 70 “Government Model” .45, but I never fired it in Massachusetts. (I had to get a state firearms permit to do so; same form as a permit to carry, and required a photo and fingerprints.)

Back to Minneapolis

I got more involved in shooting after we moved back to Minnesota. I started shooting the Colt a little, and I bought a Glock 17 (9mm) and a Ruger Mk II (.22 rimfire) in stainless. I’m a big fan of stainless; I sweat rather corrosively. I shot these a little more, but never regularly and never competitively.

I discovered that I liked the Glock a lot more than the Colt. I found I was working pretty hard to get back on-target with the Colt after each shot. In hindsight I think perhaps a stronger spring might have helped; at least, I’m happy enough shooting a friend’s 45 Super, which means that level of recoil isn’t completely beyond me. (I also shoot .40 S&W including a Kahr K40, rather a small light one, and .44 Special in a light snubnose.)

In this rather big period, I got involved in introducing Joel Rosenberg and Oleg Volk to firearms. But I wasn’t the first person to take either one out shooting. It’s not my fault, I tell you! Other people were involved! I didn’t know it was dangerous!

Carry Permits

Some time later, Joel got his carry permit for reasons he’s testified to the Senate about, I think, but I can’t find a citation so I’ll skip that for now. Anyway, that made it something I considered real people doing.

I also had noticed Florida embarking on their great shall-issue experiment, the first of the modern round of it. I remember at the time thinking it was a daring experiment, and empowering people to see to their own defense was psychologically very important and good, but I was afraid that in the real world the cost in accidental and collateral damage would be too high. Well, we all know how that came out now — 35 or some such states have shall-issue laws and the cost turns out to be negligible. Civilians with guns are much more careful than I would have expected.

So I got involved with MNCCRN, the main group agitating for carry reform in Minnesota. Not too heavily involved, but I gave them some money, went to some meetings of theirs, wrote to my representatives when they asked me to, attended some hearings, and so forth.

I didn’t go so far as to vote Republican, though. Carry rights are important, but so are a lot of other things. Even without my vote, though, they put in a legislature and a governor who passed the MPPA. I was very excited.

I’d also, at this point, gotten involved more directly. Joel introduced me to Tim Grant and Joe Olson (from the MNCCRN leadership), who were starting AACFI, to provide an instructor certifying organization that would be sure to provide for Minnesota’s needs (at the time AACFI was invented, some years ago, the NRA didn’t even have a “personal defense outside the home” course, let alone any course that covered Minnesota law). AACFI needed a web site, with various rather specialized features (like instructors entering course information, and having that searchable by students), and I got the job of creating it.

In the process, I ended up an AACFI-certified instructor, and qualified to get a permit. So I was there the morning of May 28th 2003, putting in my application (and getting interviewed by three tv stations; I only heard of KSTP running any of the footage though).