Category Archives: Reviews

Our thoughts on an item.

Lehigh Extreme Penetrator

By Andrew Betts

LEHIGH EXTREME PENETRATOR
LEHIGH EXTREME PENETRATOR

No, it is not the title of a sci-fi themed adult movie, it’s the line of CNC machined solid copper bullets from Lehigh Defense. Their Extreme Penetrator line is reminiscent of a Philips head screwdriver and the projectile is available in a variety of calibers, both as loaded ammunition and as components. The company claims that it not only penetrates relatively deeply as the name indicates, but that the “progressive nose geometry” can create “a permanent wound cavity diameter exceeding that of most expanding bullets.” They go on to claim that this “magic” is due to some ambiguous fluid dynamics which they liken to “sticking your thumb over a garden hose.” They even go so far as to claim a permanent wound cavity that is 2-4 times greater than traditional solid projectiles and some unspecified amount greater than expanding ammo. These are some extraordinary claims. Does the product live up to the hype?

To rationally examine the claims that Lehigh is making, we should first consider whether the claims are consistent with what we know about the mechanics of projectile wounding. The best resource on that topic is a paper published by the FBI called “Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness” which summarizes what the agency has learned through testing, examination of cadavers, and statistical analysis of shooting incidents. One of the fundamental points made in the paper is that, at the speed that handgun bullets travel, the temporary stretch cavity is not a significant wounding factor. This is in contrast to much higher velocity rifle bullets, which can produce damage through tearing caused by the sudden and violent stretching of tissue. In other words, rifle bullets impact at such a high speed that the temporary stretch cavity stretches past the elastic limit of the tissue, increasing the size of the permanent cavity beyond tissue that was in direct contact with the projectile. Pistol bullets are moving too slowly to cause this effect so tissue simply stretches and snaps back to normal with no substantive damage aside from some bruising.  The paper concludes that only tissue that comes in direct contact with the projectile can be damaged by a pistol bullet. That means that the claims that Lehigh is making are in direct contradiction to what is known about wounds caused by projectiles. To be fair, though, perhaps Lehigh discovered some new mechanism that was previously unknown. To rule out that possibility, we have to consider the results of independent testing.

There are two primary takeaways from this test. The first is that the bullet really is capable of some ridiculously deep penetration, especially for a projectile with such low sectional density. The deep penetration is most likely a result of the moderately high velocity combined with small frontal area and a hard material that simply does not deform. The second takeaway is that there is quite obviously no more tissue damage than is produced by a simple FMJ. The ball round actually produced more damage when it yawed and traveled sideways through the gelatin for a short distance starting around the 6” mark.

9mm ball does not exactly have a reputation for impressive tissue damage, yet it did destroy more “tissue” than the Extreme Penetrator in this test. There simply appears to be no support for Lehigh’s extraordinary claim. It should come as no surprise that the ammo fails to perform as advertised, though. Lehigh is essentially claiming that you can have your cake and eat it. Projectile wounding, like every physical action, is a dance of compromises. If all other factors (weight, velocity, projectile diameter, etc.) remain the same, varying the projectile’s design can only increase penetration if that design change also results in decreased tissue damage. Conversely, a wide swath of crushed tissue can only be produced at the expense of reduced penetration. In other words, the volume of tissue that can be damaged is relatively fixed. As the penetration goes up, the width of the wound track must necessarily decrease and vice versa. You can’t cheat Newton. As cool as Lehigh’s bullet looks, it does not defy the laws of physics.

(top) 9mm FMJ track, (bottom) Lehigh XP track
(top) 9mm FMJ track, (bottom) Lehigh XP track

Frank Proctor Way of the Gun Sling

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In looking for a sling for my Colt 733 clone I wanted something that had both modern two point adjustability and an appearance that didn’t look out of place on a quasi retro AR. I hadn’t had much luck finding anything that really suited me until I stumbled across the Way of the Gun sling from Frank Proctor. Liking what I saw, I ordered one in ranger green to try out.

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The sling itself is the absolute definition of minimalist. A basic 1” nylon strap, two buckles, two paracord attachment loops, that’s it.  Total weight of the sling, including the paracord attachment loops, is 1.98 oz.

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Close up of the para cord attachment loop.

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The length adjustment slider. Push forward to lengthen, pull back to shorten.

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The only stitching on the entire sling.

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Comparison photo of the Proctor sling next to a Magpul MS1.  Note the slings opposite function.  On the WOTG sling push the slider forward to lengthen the sling and pull back to shorten, while the Magpul slider pulls back to lengthen and pushes forward to shorten.  Not that either way is good or bad, just something to keep in mind.  Earlier I mentioned the WOTG sling with paracord attachments has a total weight of 1.98 oz, in comparison the Magpul MS1 with two quick disconnects has a total weight of 7.71 oz.  A 5.73 oz difference.

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Comparison of the length adjusters and attachment methods.

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Difference in width between the slings. 1” for the Proctor WOTG sling vs. 1.25” for the Magpul MS1.

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Proctor WOTG sling mounted on my 733.

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Here are a couple of photos of the sling mounted up on other AR’s to show the versatility in mounting it to different weapons.

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I’ve been using the sling for a couple of months now and have been pleased with it.  I’ve found the sling to be simple, lightweight and efficient.  The strap doesn’t bind up or get in the way, and the length adjuster slides smoothly.  It gets the job done with no fuss or drama, which is all I ask in a sling.

My only suggestion for improvement would be to, due to its small size, make the serrations on the sides of the length adjuster more pronounced to give the hand something to really grab/lock onto.

One bit of caution, the strap is thin and the material is flexible, I can see the potential for the sling strap to dig in and become uncomfortable if carrying a heavier weapon slung for long periods of time.  Given I’ve mostly run the sling on a sub 6 lb SBR it’s never been an issue for me, just something to think about.

All in all if you’re looking for a lightweight minimalist sling that won’t get in the way, a sling that can easily be switched between weapons that don’t have provisions for quick disconnects, or a sling that gives modern two point quick adjustable function with an old look the Frank Proctor Way of the Gun sling is a solid choice.

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Colt 6940 Piston Carbine Test & Review Part 1

The  idea that the piston operated AR15/M4  would be an improvement that fixes all of the perceived short comings of the weapon has been something that has gained ground in certain corners since the dubious “dust tests” and H&K marketing from a bit over 10 years ago now. Miss-use by users in the GWOT and careful lobbying by certain companies has put the idea that the DI system is sub-par in the minds of some of the lesser educated.   In fact ,if you did not know better you would think the piston operated AR15 did not exist until HK came out with the 416.    Truth is Colt had already developed a piston operated AR15 since the 60s and had been playing around with it ever since. If you look close at the front sight, you will see some details that pop up a lot later.

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Later Colt, in 2005-2006 colt started showing pictures of another piston gun they called the LE1020. It was a monolithic railed upper very close to the current 6940 uppers. It lacked the QD sockets,and some other small refinements but it was clear the idea was being refined. All this before others had started with their piston campaign.  Yes, colt had been making and refining piston AR15s for a long time. Getting it the way they wanted it before deciding to offer it.  We did not see the LE1020 hit the market back then because it was found the market and the Military was not that interested in a piston gun.  It took ignorant gun writers and HK marketing to convince a lot of people that they could not like without a piston operated M4.  Never mind some of those early piston ARs chewed up receiver extensions, suffered from carrier tilt, weighed a ton and were not very easy to modify.

If you are new to AR15s you may have missed the bright spike that was the peak of people wanting piston guns because so many believed a little dust caused a M4 to malfunction and History channel documentaries that were more or less HK 416 advertisements.  That has craze has evened out now a days and while some SOF use piston M4s, the rest of the army found out the M4 with its DI worked just fine witht some oil and not trying to use the M4 as a SAW.  But in that time, companies had some time to tweak the piston guns to get them to work right.  Among those was Colt, who refined their piston model from all those years ago before any one else had even thought about making a piston AR15.

With that, we come to the present day. A few weeks ago, Colt once again was nice enough to send me a shiny new Colt 6940Piston for my grubby little hands to test and abuse for other peoples amusement. We will take a look at it in this first part of a longer review and test. just to get to know it a little. stick our nose in its nooks and crannies and put on the old rubber glove and tell it to bend over so we can get to know it a little deeper….

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The Colt 6940P ( Piston) is essentially a regular 6940 from the outside. The lower is standard Colt milspec minus the full auto FCG of course. The buffer that comes with the P is the H2. This is standard issue with the gun as it comes with the the heavy SOCOM profile barrel we talk about in a moment.  The SOCOM profile M4A1 barrel is always combined with the H2 buffer in Colt models. Piston guns with standard A2 flash hiders will have a bit more felt recoil than DI guns, and the H2 buffer can smooth that out, Though to be clear that it not why it is in the gun.  As I said, with colt, the H2 buffer always is paired with the SOCOM barrel, but it is a nice side effect.

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Looking at the picture of the buffer you will note there is no shaved metal from carrier tilt or eaten up lowers which was common on some other companies piston conversions.

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As mentioned, the barrel is the SOCOM profile, which was  made for the use on M4A1 full auto carbines.  The cut flats a few inches from the front sight are for the M203 to mount around. The barrel is free floated in the monolithic upper. The free float 6040 uppers will give you every bit of accuracy the barrel is capable of. I have never seen a Colt monolithic upper that has given mediocre accuracy when using good ammo, but the piston parts may make a difference. We will see in part 2 with accuracy testing.

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The upper rail is standard 6940 and the lower rail removes the exact same way.  You can see just like the DI guns, this one has the QD sling points. The piston parts are hidden under the FF rail.

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The piston comes out very slick  and is retained neatly with a push pin much like those used for the lower. You simply push it to the side and slide the piston out.No muss no fuss.

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The piston is Colt’s design with the articulating link. Not much to say about it since its a piston. Very robust.

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Since we have a piston, we don’t need a gas carrier key.  The early Colt P guns had a bolt on part, just like the gas key, this was changed to the current model. It is machined out solid on the carrier . No bolts or staking to worry over. Not that you ever really had to worry about a colt stake job in the first place.   The Bolt carrier group fields strips for cleaning just like the standard non-piston   BCG

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The rear of the carrier has rails machined on it to make sure you get no carrier tilt. No tilt means your lower will not get chewed up like some of the early HK416 and conversion kits rushed out on the market.  The truth is, the AR16 was not meant to be a piston gun, so careful changes had to be made for it to work out in the long term. With the rails to the rear of the carrier and a steel block added to the upper receiver, tilt is a non issue on the 6940P.  In the picture below,  you can see the part added to the upper.  Buyers of even DI guns will notice this on newer 6940 DI guns and the 901 as there are plans to make piston 901 eventually and it simplifies production to make them all the same.

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Above is the upper with lower rail hand guard removed with piston and bolt carrier.

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From the outside, it looks like the regular 6940 until the educated eye looks at the front sight. The gun handles and balances no different, thought the SOCOM barrel adds a little more weight.  To get ready for long term hard shooting, accuracy testing and full auto torture tests, I have added my favorite TD grip and Colt factory ambi safeties.  For drills and general use it now has a CompM4 a B5 stock and a Knights  600 meter BUIS.  Part 2 of the review will be the accuracy testing for group, long range to the weapons extreme limit and more.  Full auto fire may be in part 2, or it may be moved to a part 3 for torture test and taking a look at cleaning the piston gun. Less fouling is often touted as one of  a piston gun’s biggest advantages so it is possible I do a part devoted to that.

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Federal Fusion Ammo Testing

Fusion
By Andrew Betts

Federal’s Fusion line may very well be the best kept secret in defensive rifle ammunition. It is a bonded soft point (okay, technically it is plated but the result is essentially the same) that bears a strong similarity to the Gold Dot line from Speer. That might seem odd at first glance, but both companies are owned by ATK. The Fusion line appears to be aimed at the hunting market based on the design of the packaging and promotional materials and indeed, it looks as though it would make an excellent load for deer and similar sized animals. It is gaining popularity as a home defense and emergency preparedness load though, and for good reason.

The .223 Rem version of Fusion comes in two flavors: original and MSR. The MSR version features annealed cases, sealed primers, and a slightly higher muzzle velocity out of most rifles but but both use the same bullet. Because this ammunition might be used in a wide variety of situations, we wanted to see how it could perform at the edges of its design limits. To do that, we tested the projectiles with two different hand loads designed for higher than factory velocity and very low velocity and we fired them from 16” and 11.5” barrels.

https://youtu.be/otou1Fws4cQ

The results were nothing short of phenomenal. The higher velocity bullet impacted at well over 3,000 fps and produced excellent expansion, fragmentation, and ideal penetration. As expected, the lower velocity projectile retained more weight and penetrated more deeply. What was really remarkable was that this load, which approximates the impact velocity of the full power load at 475 yards, was still able to produce substantial expansion and it did so almost immediately on impact, with a neck length of about half an inch. This performance is truly incredible for such a low velocity.

There is already a wide array of quality defensive choices for ammunition in .223 Rem and 5.56x45mm but until fairly recently, there were not many well designed defense loads for the 7.62x39mm. Recently, that has begun to change and it was a pleasant surprise to see Federal offer a Fusion load in 7.62x39mm. This is a very capable cartridge for hunting and defense, with a lot to offer and it really shines with the benefit of modern technology.

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Just as with the .223 load, the 7.62x39mm began to expand almost instantly on impact. It penetrated to 15” which is absolutely ideal for defensive use. It also produced huge expansion and a devastating wound channel. It is rarely wise to proclaim one particularly load to be “best” but if terminal performance is the priority, there exists no better ammunition in 7.62x39mm for defense.There may be better choices for other applications, but for defense against human beings, this is the best load available. That it is also more affordable than other premium ammo is a bonus.

Soft points in general and bonded soft points in particular tend to be very good at barrier performance. To be clear, just about any bullet can pass through a windshield, car door, wooden board, or piece of gypsum. Some bullets may not be able to expand and/or fragment as designed if they strike tissue after passing through the obstacle, though. The ability to perform nearly as well after passing through a barrier is referred to as “barrier blind”. It is an important feature to many shooters since bad guys have this funny quirk where they don’t like being shot and tend to get behind stuff. Auto glass is one of the toughest materials on a bullet because glass is much harder than wood or metal so we fired both the .223 Rem and the 7.62x39mm Fusion through a windshield to test its barrier performance.

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Penetration was reduced a bit, which is to be expected, but the bullets still expanded as designed. It is not really a quantifiable measure, but the high speed video really gives an impressive illustration of just how incredible both these rifle rounds are. Both performed as well as anyone could reasonably ask in some very difficult circumstances. Whether close or long range, whether with a carbine or SBR, and even if one has to shoot through intermediate obstacles, the Federal Fusion will get the job done. What is more impressive is that it is not marketed as go fast, door kicking ninja ammo. It is just quality ammunition at a decent price.

The Razor HD II at 6 Months: Versatility at a Price

Razor HDII

I have been using the Razor HD II for about 6 months. It’s a well-known optic, and there are many good reviews online for the piece already. They discuss its weight, its features, its huge eye-box, and they discuss X, Y, or Z… but they seem to neglect the real meat and potatoes of the optic. The Razor HD II is a Jack of All Trades.

I studied my options for weeks before I chose the Razor. $1400 isn’t chump change. It cost more than the ACOG it replaced, but looking at the optic from a shooters perspective can give us some good reasons to go with a high-end variable over a ACOG.

Razor HD rear

First and foremost, the optic I chose has a JM-BDC1 reticle. This reticle is a BDC calibrated for multiple loadings. The ranging marks are good for 9 inch wide target, and not the shoulder width of the typical BDC stadia. For ranging purposes on a human silhouette, the head must be used instead of the shoulders to measure an accurate range. I don’t consider this good or bad, just different.

Razor HD II
Click to Enlarge

What is good though, is that the BDC mirrors several important loadings very well. 55 and 62 grain ammo will match the stadia out of 16 inch and longer systems well with a sight in at + – 100 yards. Heavier ammo in the 69-77 grain range will match the stadia closely if zeroed at 200 yards. This makes the razor a good system for people who might be switching rifles or ammo types and haven’t settled on a specific loading.

Furthermore, since it’s a second focal plane optic, we can also modify the bullet drop by dialing back a bit on the magnification. Very oddly… i found that, according to Strelok Ballistic Calculator, the Razor HD would calibrate very well at 3x for a 12 inch .300 blackout firing supersonic loadings. Also the 9 inch stadia (calibrated at 6x) become 18 inch stadia at 3x so suddenly this optic can be capably used for a loading it wasn’t designed for…

Obviously experimentation is necessary to identify loadings that match well to the stadia and which level of magnification will further align with the bullet drop. Since the Razor is offered in Mil-Rad and MOA reticles as well, you can go that route too instead of tweaking things like I do with the JM-BDC-1.

The illumination is daylight bright, and is a single dot in the center of the cross-hairs. Is it red dot bright? Yes. The Razor’s field of view at 1x and bright red dot make this a devastating variable up close.

When you are stretching the optics legs, you can take off the caps and dial in your dope. Underneath the caps the optic is waterproof so no need to worry about leaving the turrets exposed. The important thing to note here is that takes a full 50 minutes of rotation to go past your zero. Since it doesn’t have zero stops, the huge amount of rotation should keep you from getting lost in the dial. If you are shooting 5.56 in a 0-600 yard setting you would need to shoot one slow… derpy loading to need to rotate the dial past 25 minutes.

Vortex RAzor HD II up close

Wind corrections are also marked and can go 25 minutes either way.

The Razor HD II has plenty of stiff competition. There are many options at the Razor HD’s $1300 price point, but I think it has a nice mix of features to allow you to shoot it in a variety of ways to extract the most value for your dollar. Not to mention the glass is beautiful. Overall, I believe an optic like this goes well on a general purpose gun. It’s not specialized enough to give a precision minded shooter the tools he / she needs for long-range work, and it’s not as light and fast on target as a red dot. It, like many other variables… operates in that niche where it is a jack of all trades, but a master of none. That said, it has more going for it than many other variables I have handled due to its combination of features.

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+ Glass is clear

+ Turrets are hard to get lost in

+ Water proof with or without caps

+ Can be very versatile if you experiment

+ Red dot bright illumination

+ BDC, MOA or Mil-Rad options available

– weight

– heavyness

+ increases physical endurance

Magpul PMAG17 vs. factory Glock 17rd mag Photo Comparison

We recently acquired one of the new Magpul PMAG17 GL9 mags to try out and see if it equals a factory Glock mag.  As the flash flooding pics Shawn has put up on the Loose Rounds Instagram account show, the weather hasn’t allowed us to get any range time on it yet.  I have however taken some pics comparing the two.  Here you go…

Note, in all of these pics the Glock mag is on the left and the Magpul mag is on the right.

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The interior of the Magpul mag.IMG_0267 IMG_0270 IMG_0273 IMG_0274 IMG_0275 IMG_0276 IMG_0277 IMG_0279

Women & the .45-Part 3

By Catherine Lindsay
So, now you know, after my first two articles, that, yes, women can shoot the .45! But, can they CARRY the .45?
Weight:
My fully-loaded Ruger SR1911 weighs 2lbs., 9.5oz., as opposed to my S & W M & P Shield in 9mm, which weighs 1lb., 8.5oz. So, a sturdy, thick belt is neccessary. There are plenty of “tactical” belts out there(fugly!), but I have found my 1 3/8″ wide X 3/16″ thick Nacona western-style belt does the trick just fine. Plus, I can change out the belt buckles (we can still be fashionable while carrying!). I was also lucky to find a Coach belt at the thrift shop for a good price. It is 1 1/2″ wide & made with 2 pieces of leather, sewn together, with something(plastic?) sandwiched between, making it both sturdy & stylish. I also check the thickness of belts buy squeezing the 2 width sides together. If it bends, it’s not a good gun belt.
Along with a good belt, you need a good holster. I prefer Comp-Tac Speed Paddle Holsters. The width of the paddle, which is inserted into the pants behind the belt, makes the weight ride more evenly on the body, rather than a holster with just a single clip. It also is easy to take off & on, it you have to lock it in your car safe. Two of my Warrior Women friends have purple & red, but I prefer basic black (it’s so slimming!). Along with the holster, get a single magazine holder, too (more about this further down).
Clothes:
I always carry concealed, even though I live in an open-carry state(future article), so cover garments are just as important as the gun, belt & holster.
Carrying on the belt has not caused me to have to change my pants, other than it does make a difference with where the waist sits. At the natural waistline(the skinniest part), the gun will ride higher, causing some short-waisted ladies to “clear” the gun when drawing, rolling the shoulder forward, and thus having to readjust the stance before firing. Mid-rise pants, just below the natural waist line, seem to be a better choice, as “clearing” the gun is not neccessary for a good draw and the gun sits closer to the body. Low-rise pants(riding at the hip bone), makes the gun stick out further from and lower on the body, thus neccesitating an ever larger cover garment. Make sure the belt loops are wide enough to accommodate your gun belt. I will say that I prefer cargo pants, as I can carry everything I need without having to carry a purse.
Ladies tend to wear more form-fitting & thinner clothes than guys, but here is what I have found works for me:
*Cover garments must be, at least, one size bigger than you would normally wear.
You have to accomodate the extra width the gun adds. As mentioned briefly before, adding a mag carrier on the left hip balances out the look, so the gun is not as noticable. I know this is hard for alot of ladies, but carrying is more important, to me, than appearing smaller.
*Vest are a CCW girl’s best friend!
While I do have a few “tactical” vests, like the guys, they are actually “traveling” vests (Travelsmith, Columbia) or “gardening” vests (Duluth Trading Company). They come in girlier colors, have more detailing & paired with jeans, don’t look as “tactical”. I have quite a few “pretty” vests in colors, patterns, & different weights from Coldwater Creek, Laura Scott, Talbots (again, from thrift shops & one size bigger than normal) that do an excellent job of covering, but look “normal”. When I wear this style, no one knows I have on my 1911 until I show them. Another neat thing about vests is they don’t bind in the shoulders when fully extended. Along with the size around of the vest, make sure it is long enough to cover the bottom of the holster. Stay away from “western-style” vests, as they tend to be shorter than flat-bottom vests.
*Spandex is a girl’s second-best friend!
No, I am not talking biking clothes, LOL. I’m talking button-front shirts in 97% cotton/3% spandex. Whether short-sleeve for spring or long-sleeve for fall, the tiny bit of spandex allows the shoulders to “give” during the draw stroke, not binding when fully extended. The spandex also tends to make the fabric a little stiffer, thus allowing the fabric to not cling. Again, one size larger(two sizes larger if it has “princess” seaming along the front/back). Also, pattern helps to hide any slight bulges, as well as darker colors. This 93%/3% also works in blazers & light jackets. I do not wear heavy coats. I prefer to layer in cold weather: long-sleeve T-shirt, long-sleeve cover shirt, vest. That way, indoors, I can remove/add layers as necessary.
So, yes, you can carry a .45 with proper belt, holster, cover garments & attitude!
Cat Lindsay

 CompTac Colors HolsterBelt1911