All About Guns Allies Well I thought it was neat!


The modern Walther PPK/S (left) is an evolutionary development of this pre-war Walther PPK in .32 ACP.


I had signed into Fort Rucker, Ala., a few days prior to my actual report date. It left a long weekend to kill before settling into the grind at our new Army post. As the beach was a mere hour and a half south, we decided to go sample the sugar white sand of Panama City.

On the drive back north, we stopped at the shopping mall in Dothan to stretch our legs and grab a bite. My son was a toddler. As a result, either my wife or I had to be physically managing him all the time lest he wander into traffic. This meant we went to the restroom in shifts.

When it was my turn, there was one other guy in the john. I don’t make a habit of studying guys in the restroom, so I just knew he was an older gentleman. As he left the institutional mall bathroom, a group of a dozen or so boisterous young men piled in.

They were loud and obnoxious as young men in herds typically tend to be. They were cursing and slamming into things. They went from one end of the restroom to the other, kicking in the stall doors to ensure no one was lurking therein. Then they got to me.

I was still facing the urinal doing my business when one of the young men came up behind me and popped me with a quick rabbit punch between the shoulder blades. I leaned forward but caught myself reflexively before becoming one with the urinal. I then put myself together and turned around to face the assembled crowd.

At the time, I was young, fit and hard — a trained soldier. However, they outnumbered me a dozen to one. They now stood silent in a semicircle, facing me, their arms collectively crossed. We exchanged stares, and they said not a word.

It was then I realized I might be about to die in a restroom in the Dothan, Ala. shopping mall. I might have taken a couple of them on a good day, but these were rangy 17-year-olds wearing gang colors. There was no way I was going to best them all collectively.

I slipped my hand into my right front pocket, slipped the latch on the butterfly knife that was my constant companion and said a little prayer. Without a word, I walked toward the largest of the lot, turning sideways to squeeze between him and his nearest companion. Throughout the episode, they all remained inexplicably fixated on the urinal. I’m fairly certain it was the prayer that got me out of that restroom alive.

Once outside, I found my precious wife innocently beaming. The elderly gentleman who had been in the restroom originally was apparently considerably more street-savvy than was I. He had posted himself outside the restroom and was telling others to find another venue. He said there was a gang meeting going on inside.

I gathered my family and left. However, I found I did not much care for the feeling of helplessness I had experienced during this sordid little episode. I drove directly from the shopping mall to the nearby county seat to apply for my very first concealed carry permit.


The FIE Titan .25 ACP that was Will’s first concealed carry weapon really is a silly little gun.

Will’s first serious concealed carry pistol was a stainless steel PPK/S in .380 ACP.
Though a bit heavy, the trim little Walther carried well and packed some proper horsepower.

Administrative Details


Back in the early ’90s in Alabama, the application for a concealed carry permit was but a single page. The permit was good for a year and cost $15. You filled it out at the local sheriff’s office.

I documented the demographic data and got to the part about supplying three references. As these were the days before cell phones and I had not come prepared with my address book, I struggled to come up with addresses and phone numbers for three people who were not family members. When the sweet lady behind the counter saw I was struggling, she said, “Son, don’t fret about that stuff. We ain’t calling any of those people anyway.”

The plan was to leave the application with the sheriff. They would run a background check overnight while it was slow, and then I could pick up the permit the following day. When I arrived the next morning, the same lady apologized and said they had been too busy to run the checks the night before. As it was a half-hour drive from home, and I would soon be really short on discretionary time, I was clearly disappointed. She said, “Aww, hell, you look like an honest guy,” and signed my form.

I was both surprised and grateful. When she noted my confusion, she asked me if I had ever been frisked by the police. I replied I had not. She went on to explain I could have carried a concealed weapon every day from first grade to the present and no one ever would have known. She said the fact I was standing there meant I needed it and criminals didn’t make a habit of asking the police for permission to carry a gun. Hers was the most profound wisdom I have ever heard from a government servant.


Finally, Firepower


Now that I had the paper, I needed a gun. Mine was a hunting family. I had a bunch of long guns to include an AR-15 and a Chicom Type 56 AK. However, I had not grown up with handguns. The only pistol I owned was an FIE Titan in .25 ACP.

My precious wife bought me the tiny little gun for my birthday the previous year for $50. I liked it because it was a pistol. She liked it because it was cute. This diminutive .25-caliber heater was all the gun we could afford at the time.

The Titan was technically the Tanfoglio GT27. This single-action, blowback-operated semi-automatic pistol fed from a seven-round magazine and weighed three quarters of a pound loaded. The lightweight cast frame was formed from some weird cheap alloy called Zamak. Production began in 1962.

The GT27 fell prey to the import restrictions imposed by the 1968 Gun Control Act. The GCA was intended to restrict availability of cheap “Saturday Night Specials.” I was living proof sometimes cheap “Saturday Night Specials” were all a working man could afford. As a result, the American companies Excam and FIE (Firearms Import and Export) brought the parts in from Italy and assembled them domestically as a workaround.

I carried the little gun loose in my right front pocket where my butterfly knife used to ride. I kept the chamber empty and practiced charging the weapon as part of its retrieval. I couldn’t afford a better pistol, but I stoked it with Glaser Safety Slugs.

Safety Slugs were serious defensive medicine back then. Basically, a formed bullet jacket packed with fine lead shot and topped with a polymer tip, these flimsy little 1/4″ bullets likely would not have penetrated much past a T-shirt. Regardless, I was finally packing heat.


Like roughly one-tenth of the American adult population, a nice, concealed carry handgun is an integral part of Will’s daily loadout.

Left to right: 9mm Parabellum, .380 ACP and .25 ACP. Modern hollowpoints are quite capable.



I saved up my pennies and bought a stainless steel Walther PPK/S in .380 ACP. I packed it in a small-of-the-back leather holster I borrowed from a friend. I recall the first time I went to the local Walmart with that thing underneath a T-shirt feeling like I was glowing orange. After a while, I came to appreciate folks either couldn’t tell I was packing a gun or didn’t care. It was, after all, the point of the exercise.

The PPK/S with its steel frame and seven-round magazine capacity was fairly heavy. However, the superb single-action/double-action trigger allowed me to carry the gun safely with a round in the chamber. I kept the slide-mounted safety on just in case and trained to flick it off on the draw. Then as now, I am diagnosable-paranoid about negligent discharges. It’s one of the reasons over many decades of shooting and hundreds of thousands of rounds, I’ve yet to have one.

I pack something high capacity, lightweight and plastic these days. I am armed whenever I am not asleep or in the shower. I have had need of a gun twice for real since then and found myself prepared both times. Had I faced that gang with nothing but my trusty FIE Titan they likely would have killed me. However, I would have at least had the means to make them work for it.


Will’s first concealed carry pistol was this truly pathetic FIE Titan in .25 ACP.
This diminutive little heater might have been preferable to foul language or
pleading, but not by much.

Modern concealed carry pistols like this tricked-out SIG SAUER P365
are hugely more capable than previous offerings.



Just before Christmas 1984, Bernie Goetz used a J-Frame Smith & Wesson revolver to wound four hustling teenagers on a New York subway train. Though they played themselves as victims at the time, the teens later admitted their intent had been to rob Goetz. When Goetz was tried for the shooting, fully half of his jurors had themselves been victims of New York street crime. He was acquitted of everything but illegal weapons possession.

This watershed event really birthed the concealed carry movement in America. Like me, many to most Americans were fed up with being defenseless in the face of criminals who ignored the law. Nowadays more than 19 million Americans hold a valid concealed carry license, and 20 states allow concealed carry without a permit. In a nation with 196 million adults, it means at least one-tenth of the population packs heat. It’s been an interesting trip getting here.

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