The concealed carry handgun market has its share of tiny guns in small calibers and reduced capacities. These guns can fit in your pocket, in an ankle holster or in other creative hideouts on or about your person. Sometimes, however, you long for a concealable handgun that actually fills your hand and carries several rounds of a very powerful caliber. Deep down inside, you might even want that handgun to be a 1911.
While some 1911 aficionados claim to be able to easily conceal full-sized, 5-inch-barreled Government models, concealment only gets easier as the physical mass of a weapon decreases. So a Commander-sized 1911—with the shorter 4.25-inch barrel—is concealed more easily than the larger Government model. Likewise, 3-inch-barreled 1911s should be even easier to hide. While 3-inch barreled 1911s are a significant departure from the original design and are considered heretical to 1911 purists, with three helpful accessories, they offer some key advantages that enhance their ability as deep-cover concealment weapons.
Several manufacturers offer 3-inch-barreled 1911s. For this article, I acquired a Smith & Wesson SW1911 Pro Series. At $1,159, it is a better-than-stock-but-not-quite-custom 1911 that weighs only 26.5 ounces and comes with some very nice features. For example, the manual safety is one-sided which saves some space and helps prevent the accidental disengagement that might result in a deep-cover carry situation.
The gun’s synthetic grips are excellent, offering a rubber-like, textured surface that looks tactical and durable. Somewhat unfriendly to deep-cover concealment, however, are the S&W Pro Series seven-round magazines, both of which come with baseplates that extend about an eighth of an inch beyond the bottom of the stocks. Other than that, the Pro Series is thin (under 0.88 inches wide) but robust. It feels good in hand, draws well, and points instinctively—just like a 1911 should.
Pistol Wear PT-ONE
Before making any alterations to the S&W Pro Series, I wanted find out how this gun would do right out of the box with a traditional deep-cover concealment technique—carrying it in a belly band. Often nothing more than an elastic pouch sewn into the side of a wide elastic strap and wrapped around the torso, belly-band users often praise their simplicity and versatility while bemoaning the lack of comfort due to tightness or the often-irritating fabric that rests against a user’s skin. Moreover, the S&W Pro Series, while sporting mostly smooth edges, is nonetheless a 1911 and thereby consists of several features with sharp points or parts that tend to dig into one’s skin when using a belly band. In addition, the rough-textured synthetic grips of the Pro Series, while offering excellent purchase for the hands, would feel like sandpaper against any other skin.
Enter the PT-ONE belly-band holster by Pistol Wear. Made of a stretchy, thick fabric that reminds me of neoprene, the PT-ONE felt soft and strong and secured around my torso with three snaps. Correctly sizing the PT-ONE forces you to undo the hook-and-loop attachment, put it on your torso, and then secure it. You only have to do this once, however, and then you use the three snaps to take it on and off, a simple procedure.
Pistol Wear recommends you wear the PT-ONE around your waist and not around your belly. Still, its design offers more than one way of hiding a handgun and more than one way of wearing it. For example, a right-handed shooter who wants to carry the Pro Series at the 3 or 4 o’clock position (strong-side draw) can use the PT-ONE as a sort of inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster. In this way, the holster offers a much deeper cover than a traditional IWB holster as a shirt can be tucked in over the weapon and PT-ONE. Used like this, the Pro Series muzzle points down but provides some ability to change the cant. Move the holster pouch to the front of your waist to carry a gun at 1 or 2 o’clock (appendix carry). Or move the holster to carry at 9 o’clock (weak-side draw). Or move the holster to 5 or 6 o’clock (small of the back carry).
No matter the position, the Pro Series carried well in the PT-ONE and always felt comfortable and secure. The PT-ONE pouch also offers a sort of retention strap that could wrap around the Pro Series grip, under the beavertail. Or just tuck the strap in if it’s not desired. Additionally, the PT-ONE includes a separate compartment for a spare magazine.