For me, the answer is “pretty frequently,” especially if you consider dryfire to be effective practice. I dryfire my competition gun frequently, and a percentage of that time I also get in some reps with my carry pistol. When doing live fire practice for competition shooting, I do the same–I generally start each practice session with a drill using my carry gun from concealment, cold, then put it away and practice with the competition gun. When I’m done, I then end the session with some reps with my carry gun. That’s in addition to various dry/live fire sessions with only the carry gun.
A few details about my carry situation that I don’t normally share, but happen to be germane to this situation: My standard carry gun is a Gen 4 G17, carried AIWB.
Recently, however, I’ve gotten a new gun for carry in non-permissive environments (NPEs). These are places/times where it is still legal to carry, but the social furor or family/friend issues that would occur if the gun was noticed would be a significant problem. You still want to carry (after all, protecting yourself and your loved ones isn’t something you want to stop doing just because someone else may get upset), but the environment itself means you simply must carry in such as way that it flat-out can’t be noticed no matter what.
Luckily for me, there aren’t many places I need to go that are like that. Nevertheless, they do occasionally occur. In the past, I used a PF9 because the PF9 is a small single-stack 9mm with a 7+1 capacity that is really, really flat. In NPE for deep carry, “flat” makes a huge difference. I was never particularly enthused about it, because Kel-Tecs aren’t exactly the most reliable in the long term, but this one has worked for me in practice so far…..
But “…so far…” isn’t something I wanted to bet my life on. So I have been looking for a replacement for a long time. When the G43 came out, I had high hopes—but truthfully, in my opinion it just isn’t that great of a gun compared to the others available (the M&P Shield, for example). And I’m a solid Glock fan, so it hurts to say that. Glock finally gives us the single-stack slimline 9mm we’ve been wanting, and it is….wanting.
Then SIG came out with their P365. It seemed….rather too good to be true. And yet, everyone I knew (whose opinion I respected) seemed to really like it. A small, flat, 9mm firearm rated for +P ammo—that had a 10+1 capacity in the size of a G43. Not quite as slim as the PF9, but pretty darn close. And you could get a 12-round mag for it, that only made it the size of a M&P Shield!
Seemed rather like magic. And…I tried one out, and then bought one. I’m thoroughly impressed so far, and I’ve shot with with the flush 10-round mag, the extended 10-round mag, and the extended 12-round mag. With the 12-round mag it feels like a thin G19. (Though it is much smaller.) With the flush 10-round mag it feels like a flat G26 with a great trigger.
….but it really isn’t like my normal carry gun at all, so if I’m going to use this thing for deep carry in NPE, I need to practice with it if I’m going to be sufficiently competent with it under stress.
Luckily most of the practice I need can be done in dryfire. Shooting it is no issue—the recoil is much less than most guns its size, the trigger is excellent, and the sights are good. (I don’t like three-dot sights, but at least these are durable night sights.) Where I need practice is the draw from deep concealment, and getting that initial sight alignment (because the grip and angle is very different from the Glocks I’m used to)…and like I said, I can do all that in dryfire.
So getting back to the point of this post, which is again: How much do you practice with your carry gun?
For me, the answer this year is “the same as I always do with my G17 but I need to ALSO add a number of consistent reps of dryfire draws from a tucked-in shirt“ (which is going to get really annoying really quickly) with the new NPE pistol.
If you have several different guns for carry, at the very least please make sure you dryfire practice drawing each gun that you carry, from concealment. For self-defense purposes, there is a HUGE difference between (for example) drawing a G17 from under a fleece jacket, and drawing a P365 from a tuckable holster rig under a dress shirt. Practicing one will NOT help you with the other. Good dryfire practice on a consistent basis (10 reps a day twice a week is a good way to go!) with every gun you plan to carry will make a huge difference to your skills.
Which is what I’ll be doing this year.
(The “featured image” for this post is from the High Noon Holsters website, and I have a number of both their leather and their kydex holsters. Their basic OWB kydex belt holster is solid for basic range work. Their “lite duty” leather holsters, while not suitable for one-handed reholstering, are excellent for deep concealment in versions such as the Hidden Ally tuckable holster for small-size semi-autos. And no, I’m not a dealer for them, nor do I get anything from them for mentioning them or linking them. I much prefer kydex for standard carry, but these leather holsters work really well for small pistols in deep carry situations.)