Single Action Backup Carry: The cocked-and-locked debate

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a new Colt Mustang to review.  I couldn’t be happier with the gun (unless it shot a larger round).  But I respect the .380.  It works.

But I’ve talked to a number of people who balk at the idea of carrying a single action pistol.  I’m not talking about those folks who carry a full sized single-action duty weapon, like a 1911.  I mean concealed carry.  Many shooters prefer the simplicity of the double-action-only polymer pocket rockets.  Less trouble.

This might be true. A striker fired .380 ACP with no manual safeties will require less steps to fire.  The Kel-Tec P3AT, for example, with a round in the chamber, should work when the trigger is pulled.
Mustang in Multiholster IWB
Yet this Colt Mustang will do things that similarly sized polymer pistols won’t.  It shoots more accurately.  It has better sights.  It would be like comparing a Zippo lighter to a disposable Bic.  They are the same, but different.


Single-action requires more thought, which can be a problem when you are acting on impulse.  This complexity seems to be the crux of single-action-carry philosophy.  There are more steps needed to make these weapons functional, and they require a specialized type of training.
For me, the only way to carry a Colt Mustang is in condition one: a round in the chamber, the hammer cocked, and the safety on.

The Colt Mustang is a defensive weapon.  I rely on it for concealed carry.  In any situation that might require the use of such a weapon, I would be automatically be at a disadvantage.  Time.  In the time required to asses a threat, and react, I will already be facing danger.  Then I would have to act, which would mean uncovering, drawing, releasing the safety, then aiming and firing (as a last resort).

I don’t consider it feasible to carry a defensive weapon without a round in the chamber.  That would add an unnecessary step.

If I were to carry a double-action-only pocket pistol, or revolver, I could remove one step in my current equation (releasing the safety).  But working the safety on the Mustang is fluid and seamless with the draw.  As the safety moves down, it is easily disengaged with the same motion with which the gun is drawn.  In practice, this motion (drawing and releasing the safety) has become one step for me, not two.

If you only need the gun as a deterrent threat, the safety can till function as a safety.  And the engaged safety actually reduces the risk of injury while holstering or drawing the weapon.  This is one of the most dangerous features of guns with limited safety features–the risk that you might push the trigger inadvertently while holstering the gun, or the risk of shooting too quickly on the draw.

Holstering options for single-action pocket guns

A good holster helps.  This Kydex IWB is another from Toni Catner at Multiholsters.  His design is impeccable.  The Mustang fits into the holster flawless, which we should all be able to take for granted.  But it locks into place.  I’ve shaken it every which way and can’t force it loose.  The Mustang is actually difficult to draw if the holster isn’t secured in place, and then it slides in and out perfectly.
Saftey in the Holster
Some who argue against carrying single-action guns cocked-and-locked often point to the fact that the safety could be inadvertently disengaged while the gun is holstered.  Not so with this one.  The Kydex is molded so perfectly that the gun won’t go into the holster if the safety isn’t engaged.

And the trigger is blocked by the molded edges of the holster, completely.  There is no chance of the safety being disengaged and there is no way for the trigger to be pulled.
The IWB from Multiholsters
I wouldn’t make that claim about all holsters.  I haven’t seen a holster yet from Multiholsters that wasn’t perfect.  But I’m not so confident in a cocked-and-locked Mustang that I would drop it in my pocket.  And I haven’t tested the soft-sided pocket holsters with one of these yet.  But I will (with the gun empty, mind you).


That’s the key.  Test out the options.  This is what I did when I first began carrying a 1911 (strong-side in a traditional belt holster).  I was insistent on having a strap.  I was comfortable carrying the gun with the hammer cocked, but only when there was a leather strap across between the firing pin and the hammer.

I carried it this way for several months, without a round in the chamber, because I thought I would find a way to dislodge the gun from its holster, or worse–shoot myself.  But it worked exactly like it was supposed to.  The safety remained engaged.  The hammer never fell.

I can’t actually move the safety unless the Mustang is free from the holster.  I’m more confident in this holster/gun combination than I have ever been with a concealed carry rig.  And that confidence is empowering.

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