What is a Primary EDC Pistol?
There are a lot of proponents of always carrying the same gun no matter what, and there’s something to be said for that. But I have found that the circumstances of my life do not always permit this; sometimes I need greater discretion, sometimes I need something with more power, for example a sidearm to carry when I am hunting. So for purposes of this discussion the term Primary EDC means my ‘go to’ carry gun, the one I prefer to carry when circumstances allow.
What works for you in this role will be determined in part by your physique, level of experience and skill, where you work and how you get there and a thousand other things. For myself, taking into account that I am a large and let’s not mince words, fat person with extensive experience, large hands and a reasonable level of skill I find that a compact pistol fills the role nicely. By compact I mean something in the general size-range of a Glock 19. Big enough to get a good grip, small enough to conceal most of the time and usually 15+1 capacity. It’s a carry gun capable enough to flex into home defense.
Understand I am not making a recommendation for you; these are simply suitable guns I have on-hand, and two of them I would absolutely not recommend to most other shooters. This is really to provide you with food for thought when considering your own options.
We live in a veritable Golden Age of modern, well made carry pistols. Think about the criteria and features I mention more than the specific guns, then go to a local range with gun rentals and try out a variety of options if that service is available in your area.
All of these guns have been very reliable in extensive firing. All are chambered in 9x19mm and the weights given are with the guns loaded. All are loaded with Underwood Xtreme Defender 90gr. +P ammunition. I always carry with a round chambered.
PSA Dagger Compact
I did not get this as a carry gun. I needed to review a pistol optic and this is what I could get that was optics-ready. This is the least expensive of these guns by a wide margin and if you shop carefully you can get into these for $300 or less. It is also the least modified, having only the grip texture enhanced.
It’s a clone of the Gen 3 Glock 19 and all parts are interchangeable. I prefer the ergonomics of the Dagger and it has a better factory trigger than the Glocks I have previously owned or handled. That trigger improved further over the first 500 rounds through the gun. It’s been very reliable and shoots quite well. As mentioned I have enhanced the grip texture, but the stock grip texture was pretty good. I did this more to experiment with texturing polymer-frame pistols than because it was needed.
It has an accessory rail on the dust-cover for a weapon-mount light or other accessories. This is a picatinny rail with a single slot, not a Glock rail.
It’s also light, with a loaded weight of 27.4 ounces. It will fit holsters made for the Glock 19, so options abound. Naturally it takes Glock magazines with a capacity of 15 or more, so there’s never an issue finding reloads.
It shoots like a Glock 19. Which is fine. Neither the best nor worst shooting pistol in this category it is certainly adequate. As mentioned it has better ergonomics and a better trigger than a stock Glock 19 so it actually shoots a little better.
It probably does not have the extreme longevity that might be expected from a Glock, but I expect it will be adequate for my uses. I dismounted the optic because I will be installing a new test optic shortly.
Will I EDC it? If the new optic works and is adequately durable I will carry it as part of the testing regime. But while I find it a perfectly adequate gun my preferences lie elsewhere. If you are on a tight budget though you should definitely consider this. It’s in the same price range as other reliable budget guns and is able to take advantage of the massive Glock aftermarket.
CZ75 P-01 Omega w/Cajun Gun Works Trigger
First off the P-01 has qualified under NATO standards for a service pistol, and that’s a pretty good recommendation to start with. It’s an alloy-frame DA/SA with a 15+1 standard capacity, and will accept longer magazines from the CZ75 series. If you do not have small hands the ergonomics are excellent. It can be configured either with a hammer-drop or a safety that allows wither single or double-action carry options. I’ve configured mine as a hammer drop because I carry autos of this type with the hammer down.
The de-cocker (or safety if you go that route) is the only ambidextrous control. It does have a Picatinny rail with a single slot on the dust-cover.
Some folks find the longer, heavier DA pull gives them a greater sense of security for a carry gun, but you will definitely need to work on transitions if you carry hammer-down for a DA first shot. It’s not hard, you just need to practice.
The stock trigger is decent for a service-type pistol and quite usable. This one has a full Cajun Gun Works set-up on the trigger, which takes it from decent to superb with a lighter, smoother DA pull and a crisp, light SA pull with little overtravel and a very short reset.
Having the slide mounted inside the rails allows for excellent inherent accuracy and the low reciprocating mass of the slide gets you back on target very fast for follow-up shots. I think this is an excellent choice if you have the budget for and the ergonomics work for you. Because of the DA/SA trigger system you will need to train with it more than simple striker-fired pistols so it will require a bit more dedication than many other options. Holsters are readily available.
It’s also a bit heavier than most modern striker-fired polymer pistols and will require a good gun belt and holster for comfortable carry, but if you can accept that the trade-off is superior performance.
This was my primary EDC for a short time and I didn’t change because of any deficiency of this gun. The downside is they aren’t cheap and the CGWs trigger set up ads a good bit more.
Custom Alloy-Frame Sub-compact 1911, the LDD
I put this gun together as modernized tribute to the classic Detonics Combat Master. The is a highly modified gun with an alloy frame, a very short grip- shorter than an Officer’s Model- and an 8+1 capacity. It has an accessory rail with three slots and a full-length dust cover, an ambidextrous safety, undercut trigger guard, hand-cut 20 lpi checkering where needed, custom Denim Micarta grips, a ported 3.5″ bull-barrel and a lightened slide.
The real star of the show here is the 1911 trigger. there’s enough slack to let you know your finger is on the trigger before it goes bang but that’s it. The trigger has a super-crisp break at 3lbs, and reset is short. The Detonics slide cut at the rear shortens the sight radius, but I have never found this to be an issue out to 25 yards or even beyond.
The lightened slide has a very fast lock-time and the low reciprocating mass gets the sights back on target instantly. The port helps with this, though it isn’t the most efficient configuration possible. The base of the magazine extends just enough to get a three finger grip without compromising concealability.
What you get is a gun able to be fired accurately very, very quickly and an easy to conceal subcompact size. What you also get is a gun you’d better be damned well trained on; proper grip and trigger discipline are absolute requirements and you need to be as well-trained on the manual arms as you should be with other guns.
You also sacrifice capacity. I’m fine with 8+1, but that’s me. It’s possible to cobble up something like this on a 2011 frame but you’d sacrifice a notable degree of concealability for the added capacity.
I’ve been messing with 1911s so long they are practically hard-wired at this point. My experience, skill and focus on speed and precision offsets the disadvantages for me. There are very few people I would recommend a gun like this to.
Honorable Mention- the 1911 Street Racer
This gets an Honorable Mention because it isn’t my Primary EDC, but now that we’re into coat season I find myself carrying it in preference to the LDD despite the weight. Oh yeah, it’s a chunk. At 38.7 ounces loaded with 10+1 rounds its well over half a pound heavier than the PSA dagger and the LDD listed above. I’m a big guy and have a good gun belt and holster so it really doesn’t bother me but it would most people.
This gun started out as a concept; a carry gun that could cross over into competition shooting like Action Shooting International matches. It’s been through several iterations but this seems to be its final form. It has all of the features of the LDD above combined with greater weight and even lower reciprocating mass.
The trade offs are the same as the LDD above, though you do get 2 more rounds. The advantages are that the trigger is even better with an extremely short and very positive reset at about 12-14/1000s of an inch. The lower reciprocating mass combined with the heavy steel frame means that for accurate rapid fire this gun is seriously cheat-mode. It’s almost ridiculous. The experimental sight is very, very fast to pick up and offers the same sort of precision I get from conventional sights out to 25 yards. It fully meets its mandate as a carry-sized competition pistol.
Also like the LDD there are very few people I would recommend a gun like this too. It requires a higher level of dedication and training and is low capacity compared to most guns in this class. OK, it’s also cool AF, but that’s just icing on the cake.
A Good Choice For Me…
…isn’t automatically a good choice for you. In fact I would generally recommend not following my choice. As a carry gun I don’t recommend 1911-platform guns to anyone unless they are already sold on them for whatever reason. My guns are custom builds specifically tailored to my preferences that offer great dividends to a life-long 1911 shooter, and serious deficiencies for anyone who isn’t. It’s a literal case of ‘do as I say, not as I do.’
Modern striker-fired polymer-frame guns are fine. They will get the job done and the cup of good options is overflowing. The Glock platform and it’s clones have a bigger aftermarket than anything but maybe the 1911. The Sig P365 series has great support and provides a lot of options as well. Springfield has not introduced a compact version of the Echelon yet, but its inevitable and I will be intrigued when it comes on the scene. Budget options from Taurus, Canik and even S&W abound. Make a realistic assessment of your life conditions and needs and start looking from there. Odds are excellent the perfect Primary EDC gun for you is out there.
You’re lucky, I had to make my own. But then I am a Fudd; it is well known.
Stay safe and take care,
Michael Tinker Pearce, 29 October 2023