Milk Run Guns: Best Firearms for Quick Trips


A “milk run,” by definition, is a routine uneventful trip. As in, a real run to get a gallon of milk. Sometimes milk runs don’t turn out well.

As an example, my grandmother told me of how her cousin, a young girl, was carrying milk from the milking stalls to the home along a narrow road and was attacked and killed by a mountain lion.

This occurred in 1921 and made a great impression on my grandmother.

Perhaps it would be best not to consider any trip a simple milk run. On the other hand, statistics support the definition.

The great majority of the time, a run to the convenience store is without incident.

Statistics are useful. Just the same, folks have drowned in creeks of an average two-foot depth. Possibilities are endless.

If you are part of the concealed-carry lifestyle, you cannot be situationally armed.

If you only pack the iron when you are going to make a night deposit at the bank — a bad idea some of us must accept — or making a run through a bad neighborhood, whatever that is, you will not have the gun when you need it.

The bad guys are not always heeled. They usually get heeled just before they are bound to commit an assault. We don’t have that luxury.

We must be armed at all time to be able to stop a lethal attack. The bad guys plan the assault down to the minute. We cannot foresee an attack.

If we could, we would be armed with an autoloading shotgun, not a pistol!

Ruger Max9 Pistol
If you are going to simply toss the gun into the back pocket without a spare magazine, the 13-shot Ruger Max9 makes a lot of sense.

My Milk Run Gun

I work at home, but generally have a bit of travel every day.

The Waffle House is a frequent destination, although Eggs Up Grill is sometimes on the list.

The gun shop, the pawnshop and other destinations, and especially the firing range, are on the agenda.

I get dressed and carefully thread the inside-the-waistband holster to the belt, wear a spare magazine carrier, a formidable folding knife, and a .38 in an ankle holster. I wear sturdy boots.

During the evening hours, I am dressed more comfortably, often with a .38 in the back pocket and slip-on shoes.

If the wife asks me to run to the Food Lion for a gallon of milk, then I am not motivated to ‘suit up’ again.

Sometimes I gas up at night if I have forgotten during the day, sometimes it is a run to the Dollar Tree.

We try to stay stocked up, but like everyone else, we don’t always succeed.

So, I have smaller, easy-to-carry pistols that are easily ‘belted on,’  As another example, I loathe leaving a firearm in a vehicle.

Just the same, you cannot take a firearm into a medical facility, and I certainly didn’t wish to leave my Wilson Combat CQB in the truck!

So a milk run gun went to the routine doctor’s appointment and stayed in the Jeep. So, what is the milk run gun?

GLOCK in Inside the Waistband holster
The DeSantis Slim-Tuck offers easy on and off carry, and is far better than not wearing a holster!

Other Good Options

It should be a relatively compact and reliable firearm.

Like all the others, it is proven and of a suitable caliber for personal defense — although I make some concession in this regard.

The pistol is small and light, and suitable for a relatively short period of travel.

I don’t like pocket carry, especially without a holster, but sometimes we make concessions.

A pistol that I trust as much as any handgun, is a vintage Colt 1903 Hammerless.

This svelte, reliable and surprisingly accurate handgun is a type that has seen action all over the world.

It is so flat and so fast handling I cannot praise this gun enough. Another choice that is a strong favorite among my friends is the CZ 83.

This compact double-action first shot pistol carries 13 rounds of .380 ACP.

Along with the Beretta 84, this is a pistol with plenty of capacity and excellent accuracy.

A class of milk run guns that are a classic are the various snub-nose .38 Special revolvers.

While there are better choices, nothing quite balances like these guns.

Throw them in a back pocket or jacket pocket and you are good to go.

I also have a couple of small-frame .357 Magnum revolvers that are little, if any, larger than the snub .38.

In a different role, they are sometimes my long-term companions when hiking.

Hiking is usually a milk run, but I like to have a compact first-aid kit, a hatchet in case I need a hasty shelter, and a light handgun.

I have needed the first-aid kit and the hatchet, but not the handgun. I hope it stays that way.

Colt 1903 and GLOCK milk run guns
The author’s Colt 1903 is still a trusted sidearm, but the GLOCK 43X is certainly a better choice.

What About Concealed Carry?

These are rough and ready firearms, just the right size for quickly thrusting into a pocket or a belt for a quick run.

The carry may not be comfortable or secure in the long term, but it works for the short term.

On the subject, however, there may be another solution to the milk run gun.

I like a secure holster with a good balance of speed and retention, and one that is securely attached to the belt.

However, a paddle holster is a good shot at the milk run gun and carrying a service-size pistol during the milk run.

Perhaps you won’t carry a spare mag, the backup or your knife, but you have a pistol.

Galco offers a number of quality pancake holsters well-suited to this type of duty. Just a thought.

Another option I have used more is situational or perhaps seasonal. During the cooler months, I often deploy a shoulder holster.

The shoulder holster takes some time to adjust properly and only the best examples offer comfort and usefulness.

Just the same, once you have the shoulder holster adjusted properly, it keeps the weight of the handgun balanced on the shoulders, off the back, and makes for a good way to carry a handgun and a couple of spare magazines.

During the winter, I wear the shoulder holster during the day and hang it on the bedpost at night.

If I need to make that milk run I simply don the harness and snap it to the belt. It works well.

1911s in Shoulder Holster milk run guns
Just maybe, a Mernicle custom dual shoulder holster for the more serious runs? It throws across the shoulders easily!

Conclusion: Best Milk Run Guns

Milk run guns are an American heritage.

As a child, I remember my grandfather carried a five-inch barrel .38 most of the time, but on Sunday, his off-day, he pocketed a small break-top .38.

This was his pocket gun or Sunday gun, another name for the milk run gun.

Today, we have excellent choices in milk run guns and should take advantage of them.

Do you have any favorite milk run guns? Let us know in the comments below!

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