Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: Vintage Guns For Concealed Carry

The Colt 1911 was a popular gun among many different criminals of the era. It also fired the powerful .45 ACP round. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Guns and Gear Contributor

By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

Let’s face it: old guns are cool. There are some great classic pistols out there for the collector and enthusiast, some of which can be kept in working order pretty much in perpetuity thanks to the available parts in circulation.

But are vintage guns any good for concealed carry?

After all, guns are tools and if functional can be used, some of them for a very long time. It’s not as if .38 Special wears a pistol out too quickly, nor .45 ACP, 9mm or even .44-40 or .45 Colt in old service revolvers. Heck, old N-frames can probably still hold up to .357 Magnum without issue while that Colt Python you’ve been drooling over just went out of timing because someone wrote “.357 Magnum.”

In actual fact…some of them actually are.

With some vintage guns, it’s going to be rather obvious. There are a whole bevy of Colt Detective Specials and Cobras floating around. A whole lot of S&W J-frames and compact K-frames, such as the 3-inch Model 10s, Model 13s and Model 19s, abound as well. You’ll also run across the odd Ruger Speed Six.

These revolvers were designed for concealed carry and plainclothes police work, so it is the task they were made for. Many an officer toted one for their protection in years past, and you can as well.

Among the vintage semi-auto pistols, the options become fewer but there are plenty that are not only serviceable, but are just as viable as some modern guns…at least, with proper care.

Obviously, the 1911 platform will loom large among classic pistols and it is still one of the most popular pistols on the market. It’s big for a packing gun, sure…but the slim width of the slide (less than 1 inch) actually make it easy to conceal inside the waistband or worn high and tight outside it. The Browning Hi Power can also serve as a carry gun, as it proved itself in military and police roles many times over, and the 1911 guys won’t make fun of you because John Browning helped design it.

The Smith and Wesson Model 39 makes for a dandy CCW pistol. It’s compact, slim, and can be decocked for a DA first shot. Not only that, they are relatively cheap to acquire these days. If the classic doesn’t appeal, more modern versions were produced into the 1990s.

Walther PPK pistols have been a somewhat popular concealed carry pistol for many years as well, including genuine Walther and Interarms licensed copies. If you like the design but want to be cooler than other people, you could try and find a Sig P230. Same gun, same caliber, but made by Sig Sauer.

And so on and so forth.

Plenty of vintage pistols are out there that are viable carry guns, even being decades old. However, there are some caveats.

First, parts must be in good working order, so make sure those semi-autos have fresh springs. Older guns tend to need a bit more lubrication – though not too much – so make sure to stay on top of upkeep.

Second, ammunition should be carefully chosen. Modern ammunition in some cases generates higher chamber pressure – though in some cases lower as well – than that of previous eras, so be sure to select an appropriate loading for carry ammunition. Also, old semi-autos were designed primarily for hardball. Many will require a new barrel, smithing to alter the feed ramp, or something like PowRBall to feed hollow points.

Also, you’ll want to consider whether you want to risk it. Vintage guns are cool, no doubt, but any gun used in a defensive capacity will likely be confiscated. IF you get it back (and that’s a big if) it will probably not be in the best condition when it’s returned. Therefore, heirloom guns should probably live in the safe. That said, if you wanted to carry an interesting vintage gun, you totally can.

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit