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're using a Dan Wesson ECP carried inside a Wright Leather Works holster. We also have a CMC Products magazine and an LEDLenser flashlight.
Dan Wesson ECP ($1,600)
Honestly, Dan Wesson might be one of the most underappreciated 1911 manufacturers on the market. The company has an incredible line of guns, ranging from tricked-out competition rigs to concealable, carry-ready compacts. The ECP, which stands for Enhanced Compact Pistol, is definitely one of the latter.
SI Executive Editor Daniel McElrath reviewed this very gun for our magazine and came to a pretty startling conclusion. He said, and I quote, “If I had to strap on a sub-$2,000, single-stack, production 1911 out of the box and wear it concealed – without modification – for the foreseeable future, this would probably be the gun.”
So, what makes the ECP such a great carry gun? There are a couple stand-out features found on this pistol, the most obvious being this unique cut at the bottom corner of the frame. It’s this sharply angled corner that’s hardest to conceal under a cover garment, since it wants to poke out and print easily. By cutting this corner off, Dan Wesson made the ECP much more concealable than many other Commander-size 1911s.
The second praise-worthy element on the ECP is the trigger, which is one of the best 1911 triggers we’ve ever felt on a 1911, production and custom alike. After a very short take-up, there’s an amazingly crisp break with zero stacking. The gun just fires. It’s one of those things that you just have to feel to believe.
Wright Leather Works Banshee IWB Holster ($115)
A carry gun as nice as the Dan Wesson ECP needs a quality holster to match, so we went to the team at Wright Leather Works. One of the models in the company’s lineup is the Banshee, which is an all-leather, pancake-style holster that comes with two different clip designs.
The traditional leather straps that ship with the gun have one-way snaps that secure the holster to a gun belt. The straps are recommended for use with heavier, full-size guns, and there’s no way to tuck a shirt into your waistband over the holster. However, the Banshee ships with a second set of clips that are designed for deep concealment. You can tuck a shirt in with these clips installed, and the design of the polymer clips allow the holster to ride a little lower inside the waistband for improved concealment.
There are four mounting holes on each side of the Banshee, allowing for different ride heights and degrees of cant. The bottom of the holster is left open, which allows any debris or fouling to clear out. One thing to keep in mind about these all-leather holsters is that they take some breaking in. Generally, the gun fit will be pretty tight at first. To loosen things up on this one, we wrapped our ECP in a plastic bag and placed it inside the holster overnight. That generally does the job.
CMC Products 10-Round Railed Power Mag ($39.95)
Going back to the gun now, you’ll notice the Dan Wesson ECP is chambered in the big-bore .45 ACP. A 9mm model is available as well, but fans of the 1911 tend toward the classic .45-caliber chambering. However, one downside to the .45 is that magazine capacity is reduced compared to the 9mm or .40 S&W. The CMC Products Railed Power Mag makes up for some of this capacity deficit by offering a 10-round capacity, thanks to the added space inside this bumper. While it certainly won’t make your gun any more concealable, it would work great as a back-up magazine. If I have to reload my self-defense gun, then I’m in a situation where I want as many extra rounds on tap as possible. Plus, the Railed Power Mag has a feature designed to aid in feeding here at the top, where the edge of the magazine body is rolled over to create a smooth feed surface.
LEDLenser TT ($50)
Finally, every solid EDC kit needs a good flashlight, and LEDLenser has one in its TT model. This light provides 280 lumens on its highest setting and is built with the company’s Advanced Focus system, which provides a rotating bezel to adjust beam width, so you can light up more of your immediate surroundings or narrow and focus the beam to reach out a bit farther. The light runs on standard AAA batteries, so you’ll always be able to find spares. One of the other highlights of the TT is this ring at the rear of the light body, which allows users to run a light using the Rogers technique.
All of this gear represents just one of an incredible number of combinations on the market today, and it’s important for everyone to find the EDC kit that works best for them. Looking for something different than what you see here? Stay tuned to “I Carry” to see more concealed-carry setups.