Defining Your Purpose

So, you think it’s time to buy a firearm, but you’re not sure which one to pick? The first step in any firearm purchase is to figure out exactly what purpose that gun will fill. Will you be using it for concealed carry? If so, when will you be carrying? Where do you want to carry? What sorts of activities will you need to do on a daily basis while carrying? These are all questions you must consider before pulling the trigger on your concealed carry purchase.

When Will You Be Carrying?

The route you go with your concealed carry pistol can vary depending upon whether you’re looking to carry mostly while you’re on the job or when you’re off the clock. For some who wear suits to work every day, a larger, more difficult to conceal pistol may not bother them. For others, everyday clothes may prevent them from successfully concealing their pistol. Regardless of which camp you fall into, it’s crucial that you consider the times that you intend to carry your pistol and the situations that you might find yourself in while carrying. Taking the time to think about this ahead of time can save you headaches down the road.

Where Do You Want to Carry?

Do you spend your days in wide open areas or compact spaces? It may sound bizarre, but the answer to this question can carry significant weight when picking out your concealed carry pistol. Larger handguns with longer barrels will be more difficult to maneuver around corners and may be more difficult to draw when you don’t have much room. In contrast, pistols with shorter barrels will struggle to be accurate at longer ranges, and they often come in lower caliber options. While they may be ideal for fast firing from the hip, their shorter size can have drawbacks when it comes to power and precision. With these considerations in mind, it’s important to acknowledge which category you’ll fall into more often than not, so you can bare that in mind when making your purchasing decision.

What Will You Do While Carrying?

Some shooters have desk jobs that don’t require them to be particularly active during the day, while others may be moving around constantly as part of their everyday activities. If you remain relatively stationary in an office environment, carrying concealed likely won’t have an impact on your ability to complete your regular tasks. But, for shooters with a more active lifestyle, a more compact, durable handgun will successfully stay out of your way while simultaneously enduring all the everyday wear and tear caused by your daily activities.

When you set out to purchase a pistol, you need to know what you will expect from it as your everyday carry. Once you’ve recognized the purpose the gun will serve in your life, you’re ready to move on to selecting the right gun for you.

Can You Concealed Carry a 1911?

You may have heard the myths that 1911s are not meant to be concealed carried. This could not be further from the truth. The 1911 was developed to be an inexpensive, reliable, durable self-defense sidearm for the United States military. Its battle-tested nature makes it the ideal side arm for concealed carry self-defense, because it is less likely to jam, misfire or malfunction than other popular pistol platforms.


The 1911 is a simple machine. From the beginning, it was designed to be taken apart and reassembled in the field. During early trials, the gun fired thousands of rounds and dunked in a tank of water to be cooled. It’s ability to handle the rigors of war without losing its ability to fire quickly, accurately and reliably makes it the ideal tool to perform in the field when your life depends on it.


Another element that makes the 1911 an excellent choice for concealed carry is the platform’s versatility. Regardless of your caliber preference, there’s undoubtedly a 1911 that will suit your needs. Whether you’re looking for a lighter, high velocity round like the 9MM, a heavier round with greater stopping power like the 45ACP or a medium-bore, combat cartridge like the 10MM, you’re sure to find a 1911 platform firearm that matches your shooting style and comfort level. Smaller caliber 1911s generally have smaller frames—which makes them an excellent choice for joggers, individuals who prefer form-fitting clothing or women who choose to carry their gun in a small purse or handbag.

One in the Chamber

Beyond your carry position, you’ll need to decide if you want to carry your 1911 empty or with one in the chamber. Shooters who carry with their chamber empty generally do so as a safety precaution. If the chamber is empty, the shooter will need to rack the slide in order to load a round into the chamber before they can fire. While some view this as a valuable safety precaution, others view it as an unnecessary risk. Shooters who opt to carry with a round in the chamber generally do so in order to ensure that they are ready to protect themselves as fast as possible in the event of an emergency. These shooters trust their holster and their gun’s safety features to protect them from an accidental discharge.


Part of the beauty of a 1911 is just how simple the mechanism is. These guns are workhorses that stand up to whatever you put them through, and that is largely thanks to their limited number of parts and straightforward construction. These elements have kept the 1911 platform in the mainstream for decades. The best part? Their simplicity doesn’t sacrifice their precision—meaning you can hit your mark every time.

Check out our video on how to properly disassemble one of our 1911 firearms to see what we mean when we say, “straightforward construction.”


What concealed carry holster is right for you and your 1911? The answer depends on a number of factors—namely your carrying preference, your everyday activities, your body type, and how you dress. If you wear a suit, you’ll have a wider variety of holster options, because business suits are particularly great at hiding handguns. However, if you tuck in your shirt and you’re looking for a waistband holster, you’ll need a holster that accommodates for that, such as a Cloak Tuck IWB Holster from Alien Gear. With gym shorts and sweatpants, shooters may need to resort to a pocket holster.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common holster types available today.

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​Ankle Holsters

For years, police officers across the country and around the globe have been using ankle holsters as a method for carrying a secondary pistol on their person at all times. Ankle holsters work well for covert concealed carrying, because loose pantlegs generally make for more free-flowing fabric to cover your gun. Ankle holsters have the added benefit of storing your sidearm lower on the body where people are less likely to see it if you do end up printing. The obvious drawback to an ankle holster is the fact that its lower position naturally places it further from the hands of the shooter. While this may be worrisome for some carriers, it offers a distinct tactical advantage when seated or kneeling—which may prove worthwhile for shooters who spend a significant portion of their day in a seated position. That being said, it is much more difficult and uncomfortable to conceal larger pistols with an ankle holster, so sticking with a micro or sub-compact pistol such as the Baby Rock is recommended.

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Inside the Waistband (IWB) Holsters

Inside the waistband holsters are a broad category of holster that encompass many of the other options listed here. As the name would imply, these holsters are carried on the inside of a shooter’s waistband—effectively concealing most of the gun and holster behind the fabric of the shooter’s pants. Additionally, the nature of an IWB holster allows the gun to be held closer to the shooter’s body—limiting printing and maximizing concealment.

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​Pocket Holsters

Much like the ankle holster mentioned above, pocket holsters are an excellent solution for shooters whose body type or everyday clothing effectively prevents them from carrying their pistol in a waistband holster. As their name suggests, these holsters allow shooters to safely carry their everyday carry with them in their pocket. As with the ankle holster, pocket holsters are generally more forgiving of smaller frame pistols like the Baby Rock. One element that is unique to pocket holsters is the possibility that the holster will come out of your pocket with your firearm when you draw it for defensive use. While pocket holsters are generally made to have exterior surfaces that will grip the inside of your pocket on your draw, you can never be certain that the grip surface will successfully strip the holster from your firearm. Some pocket holsters come with thumb breaks or other unique elements that allow the shooter to manually release the gun from its holster.

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​Outside the Waistband (OWB) Holster

Outside the waistband holsters are more popular among open carry shooters, but using an OWB holster for concealed carry is far from unheard of. Generally speaking, these holsters are worn at the hip and can print easily under your clothing due to their increased distance from your body. To combat this, shooters who opt for an OWB holster will often seek out a slimmer holster with a lower profile to avoid unnecessary printing.

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​Shoulder Holsters

Made famous by old-school cop dramas, the shoulder holster is a classic American holster that allows for comfortable and convenient concealed carry of larger firearms. With the weight of your firearm supported by the shoulder straps, the shoulder holster is notably more comfortable and less intrusive than other holster options that suspend your weapon’s weight from one or two clips. The obvious drawback of a shoulder holster is that, unless you are wearing a business suit or a jacket of some sort, your firearm is not concealed. For people who wear suits every day or live in colder climates, the shoulder holster allows the wearer to carry a second firearm or additional magazines under their strong arm—which allows for additional firepower whenever it’s needed. The shoulder holster’s underarm position allows shooters to easily conceal larger handguns, such as full- or government-sized 1911s.

Best Rock Island Armory 1911s for Concealed Carry

As a company, we’ve developed a bit of a reputation for the quality, affordability and reliability of our 1911 lines. When looking at our field of classically-constructed 1911s, some shooters find themselves overwhelmed with their concealed carry options. We’ve broken our extensive lineup out into a core group of key players in the world of CCW permit holders.

Rock Series

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Rock Ultra

This pistol is chambered in 45ACP with a 3.5” button-rifled barrel supported by a full-length guide rod. The smooth-angled style prevents annoying snags and allows for consistently quick draws. Want this but with standard sights? Check out the ROCK Standard CS.

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Rock Ultra CCO

With an Officer-grip aluminum frame and Commander-length slide, the Rock Ultra CCO is a shorter CCW option that minimizes the chance of printing under a cover garment. Capable of chambering both 22TCM 9R and 9MM, it’s a compact, lightweight 1911 option that won’t leave you wanting for more features.

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Rock Ultra TCM Lightweight

It’s a lightweight option giving you the same power and durability but with an aluminum frame. It’s built with the original Armscor 22TCM 9R cartridge in mind. The high velocity and low recoil make the 22TCM a great choice for plinking and, depending on your philosophy, even self-defense. It also comes with a 9mm accessory drop-in barrel, giving you maximum versatility. If 22TCM and 9mm aren’t your cup of tea, you can also grab it in 45ACP.

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Baby Rock

Don’t underestimate this little 1911 just because it has “baby” in its name. The angled, low-profile sights are designed to prevent snagging while still providing a clean sight picture. Since it’s chambered in 380, it’s easy to shoot, control and conceal. See it in action with John McClain.

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Tac Series

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Tac Ultra – 9MM

Compacts make for good starting points when looking for a pistol with concealed carry in mind. It has an accessory rail for a light attachment and a 3.5” button barrel chambered in 9mm. Despite being small, it has room for eight rounds of 9mm and weighs in at just over two pounds unloaded.

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Tac Ultra CS – 45ACP

This one’s the same pistol - but chambered in 45ACP. While 45ACP has a storied history, paired with the 1911 pistol, you will be trading off a round of capacity. Of course, some believe they won’t need more than a few rounds in a self-defense scenario, so this may be a non-issue for your purposes.

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TAC Ultra FS – 45ACP

Maybe you’re not one for small pistols - especially if you have bigger hands. A full-size 1911 can be concealed fairly well, with the right clothing, due to its slim nature. Although some people might find the 5” barrel an inch too long, packing a full-size 1911 does give you more grip space to work with and a good sight radius and it provides a little confidence boost, as well.

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TAC Ultra FS HC – 9MM

If you’re not concerned about size, then why not go all-out and consider a double-stack 1911? Get it in 9mm, and you’ll have 17 rounds with which to work. Be advised that the extra capacity paired with the metal frame does put you at more than 3.5 pounds unloaded and 1.3” in width.

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GI Standard CS – 45ACP

If a TAC or a Rock doesn’t suit your needs, you can’t go wrong with the classic GI Standard CS. Designed after the original combat-issue M1911 and shrunk to an easily concealable size, this gun still spits the powerful 45ACP cartridge without overloading the shooter with recoil and barrel rotation. This gun is a great option for CCW permit carriers with an appreciation for classic wood-gripped 1911.

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Putting It All Together

Regardless of what gun you choose, it’s important to follow the letter of the law. Concealed carry laws vary from state to state. Just because you are legally allowed to carry concealed in your home state does not mean that your right will be recognized in another. Before you travel, make sure to double-check what states your permit is valid in, and remember to maintain concealed carry insurance in case you ever need to use your gun to protect yourself or others. We recommend checking out Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network (ACLDN), NRA Carry Guard, United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) or U.S. Law Shield.

The 1911 is a classic platform that has protected American lives both at home and overseas. Its battle-tested durability and reliability have proven the gun’s ability to take a beating without malfunctioning. This, coupled with the modern technologies implemented in the 1911s of today, make this platform a clear winner when it comes to workhorse concealed carry options.