Throughout my adult life, I have been in various armed professions. Often, a couple at the same time. I put significant thought and effort into building specific mission-based systems. I am creating a new plan to adapt to some life and professional changes in my current situation. The basis of any of these systems is the primary firearm.
Professionally, I have had to start with a primary firearm selected for me by a government organization or had my choices restricted to a few options. For many in government, this is normal. At this point, the emphasis is on maximizing training and building support systems to complement the primary system.
I am a retired police officer carrying Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) credentials. I also provide professional firearms instruction and am a licensed security contractor and a private investigator working on overt and covert details.
During that time, I carried Langdon Tactical Beretta PX4CCs as my primary firearms and S&W J frames for my support guns. I have been very pleased with my choices and may end up back at that combination.
With my requirements, I need to address multiple factors. Two factors have come to play to make a change. The first is job requirements. The second is aging injuries and medical issues.
As a firearms trainer, I need to embrace red dots fully. I have been shooting red dot guns since 1989. I heavily revisited it in 2009. It has always been a bit of a side project or a competition-based endeavor rather than for everyday use. A good friend who is an exceptional shooter and coach I shoot with gave me some profound advice that I need to live with red dots and shoot them exclusively for at least a year to become competent with them, and I have embraced that. I will be shooting red dots almost exclusively for 2022.
The next issue is gun size. I need a handgun that can function as an overt carry gun for specific security details and is adaptable to low-profile covert carry for other details and travel.
Because I often travel to places where I need an efficient ten-round limitation option, this was also a significant factor. It is hard to find a system that can go from an overt external carry gun to a system that can work in a non-permissive environment where the firearm is undetectable and not just covered.
The last issue is severe arthritis and some ocular injuries. I need firearms that I can use with minimal grip strength, light recoiling, and a sighting system I can see. These are pretty tall orders and require some significant thought and experimentation.
I have avoided SIGs for various reasons over the years. While they were once my primary firearms, I moved to other systems. I choose a SIG SAUER P-365XL as my primary handgun. After a lot of research, I felt the P-365XL met the requirements of what I needed. A significant factor is the SIG P365 series is modular. Because of my diverse needs and missions, modularity is essential.
Wanting a red dot sight is also driving the change. I like how low the optic mounts in the P365X’s slide. I have significant astigmatism and no longer have binocular vision. Fuzzy reticles are very distracting and diminish my ability to look through a red dot rather than at it. I have found larger dots lessen the issue. I selected the Holosun 407K with its 6 MOA single red dot reticle. The 407K mounts on the P365XL like they were made for each other.
There was one glaring issue with the P365X series guns. I have severe arthritis in my hands. Gripping many of today’s small concealable semi-automatic pistols sufficiently enough to run them at high levels is near impossible with my compromised grip strength. I reached out to Ben Simonson at Boresight Solutions to address the grip size concerns. Ben has built me specialized pistols to address this issue before. I purchased two SIG P365XLs to have Ben make a pair of absolutely identical guns.
Both pistols are stock, and their triggers are identical. Because of their modular system, I had Ben outfit them with a pair of his Razorback grip modules. One was the longer 365X length, and one was the shorter 365 length. The more prominent protrusion at the back of the grip modules, distinctive stippling, and undercut trigger guard sink these into my hand.
It allows the grip to anchor in the center of my palm while requiring less dependency on my fingers and compromised bone structure to get a decent grip on the pistol, a critical component of marksmanship skills. The grip modules are not cheap, but they are crucial in making this work.
I have an ample supply of magazines of various lengths. Short ten round magazines in the short grip gun make it exceptionally easy to conceal, and I usually have 12 round XL magazines as spares. This also allows for an easy button when I travel to magazine ban jurisdictions where I can switch to all ten-round magazines. Or, I can carry the standard length P365XL with a flush fit 12 round magazine and a spare 15 round magazine. This is a daily carry pistol that is extremely small and concealable and carries more ammunition than I had on my duty rig during my first seven years of law enforcement in some of the most violent times in our lifetime. I figure it is sufficient for an old, retired guy.
For overt carry or working high threat protective details, I have three 15 round magazines for the full-frame pistol.
One for a primary load and two reloads. This is typical of what most police officers carry when going to other people’s problems – the ones that I am trying to avoid.
This selection of a primary system fits my life and my mission. Anyone building one should REALISTICALLY review their individual needs. Do you need an offensive pistol? Do your needs require searching for or going to a fight? If so, then your choices may be different. Are you practicing and training enough to maximize those modifications? If not, spending money on ammunition and professional training will go further than buying neat stuff. If you do not have the same mission and needs as your favorite influencer, social media celebrity, or firearms media personality, you should not be trying to copy them.
If you want a firearm in your home as the ballistic equivalent of a fire extinguisher – and you won’t train or rarely practice – your need is different from someone whose job demands a high level of firearms proficiency and their daily use.
Assess your real-world needs and current skills. Get solid education and guidance to make good choices. You cannot buy skill. It takes work and dedication.