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I Carry: BUL Armory Ultra Black 1911 in a Milt Sparks Holster

Welcome to another episode of "I Carry," Shooting Illustrated's weekly video series covering the guns and gear needed to put together a potential everyday-carry kit. Today we have a BUL Armory 9 mm 1911 in a Milt Sparks holster. We also have a Galco belt, a SureFire flashlight and a Zero Tolerance knife.

BUL Armory Ultra Black 1911 (MSRP: $649.99)

For fans of 1911-style handguns, the Officer size is the most-concealable variant. With a barrel length of three and a half inches and a shortened grip frame, this particular iteration maintains the grip- and thumb-safety mechanisms that allow the 1911 to be carried in Condition One, which is a loaded magazine inserted, a round is loaded in the chamber, the hammer is cocked and the thumb safety is engaged. If you’re conversant with the operation of the Government or Commander models, the Officer model is nearly identical—just smaller.

The BUL Armory Ultra 1911 is actually a quarter-inch shorter (the barrel is three and a quarter inches long rather than three and a half), so it’s even easier to conceal. It features an aluminum frame for weight reduction – it weighs slightly more than 25 ounces, not considerably more than a polymer-frame pistol. The rear sight is adjustable, the front is not, but both are dovetail mounted should upgrades be desired.

This particular pistol is chambered in 9 mm, and variants are available in the traditional .45 ACP and the not-so-traditional 9x21mm. G10 scales and frontstrap checkering keep the BUL anchored in the hand, while a slight pinkie rest on the 9 round magazine leaves room for a full grip. It’s a great size for carrying, while still being large enough to shoot well, which is really everything you want in a concealed-carry firearm you’re going to depend on. While 9 mm Officer-size 1911s have developed a reputation for being finicky, we haven’t observed any malfunctions in our testing.

Milt Sparks Holster (MSRP: $145)

Certain brands are iconic in their particular industry, noteworthy for their elegance and longevity. Cadillac and Rolls Royce come to mind in the automobile world, Rolex and Seiko in the realm of wristwatches, Ray Ban and Oakley for sunglasses. Milt Sparks is that iconic brand for leather holsters, and what better holster for the timeless 1911 than a Milt Sparks? The Versa Max 2 offers a fully encased metal-reinforced mouth for safe reholstering, a protective extension on the back to keep safeties and sharp edges away from the body and non-pivoting belt loops that distribute weight evenly. It’s a solid choice for any pistol, but be aware there will most likely be a wait time for your holster.

Galco CB3 Concealable Contour Belt (MSRP: $119)

The Galco CB3 Concealable Contour Belt comes formed for increased comfort. The strap itself tapers to one inch to allow smoother feeding through belt loops and holster slots, and mates with a nickel-plated brass buckle. Reinforced and contoured to the body, this purpose-built belt makes carrying even metal-frame handguns easy. An additional bonus to the front-taper? It looks like an ordinary dress belt rather than a reinforced gun belt. If you’re a believer in the “Gray Man” philosophy, the Galco CB3 will help.

SureFire EDCL-1T (MSRP: $165)

SureFire’s EDCL1-T light features low and high operation, a 220-yard throw, 45-hour run time and a maximum output of 500 lumens, all on a single CR123A battery. Operation is quite simple: a light push activates the low setting while a firm push activates high for momentary on, while turning the tailcap slightly will turn the EDCL1-T on low, and turning the tailcap further will activate constant-on high setting.

Zero Tolerance 0470 (MSRP: $325)

In keeping with our classic theme for this “I Carry” setup, the last piece of our EDC gear today is a Zero Tolerance 0470 folding knife. With titanium scales and a carbon-fiber insert, this American-made flipper knife is definitely eye-catching. The 3.4-inch, CPM 20CV steel blade is bead-blasted and features a machined satin finish. A frame lock keeps the blade safely extended, and releases easily. It does, however, lead to a little quirk.

The frame safety lever is quite sensitive, and even a little pressure will keep it tightly closed. If you’re used to opening flippers by pressing with your index finger, you might have to change your grip slightly to actuate it. If you ensure your fingers do not touch the frame lock, it opens smoothly; if your grip impinges on the lock even slightly you’ll be frustrated. Once you figure out how to grip the knife, though, it’s easy.

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