painiac's Essential Guide to Concealed Carry

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painiac's Essential Guide to Concealed Carry

Post by painiac » Sat Mar 29, 2014 2:25 am

This is an incomplete draft. Looking for comments and constructive criticism.

Table of Contents:
..Legal Issues
..Legal Terminology
..License Abbreviations
..Reciprocity
..Justifiable Use of Force
..Situational Awareness
..Warning Shots
..Less-Lethal Ammunition
..How much ammo to carry
..Concealment
..Open Carry
..Spotting a Concealed Weapon
..Holster Selection
..Holster Types
..Holster Material: Leather vs. Nylon vs. Kydex
..Holster positions


Legal Issues:

No discussion of concealed carry is adequate without covering some legal definitions and issues. To that end, this is where I will start.

Most states now recognize the right of citizens to carry a concealed firearm. The one extreme is the city of Chicago, where there are technically mechanisms for a citizen to legally carry a firearm but in fact the license is never issued to common citizens because the city government is anti-rights. The other extreme is the state of Vermont, whose high court ruled firearm laws unconstitutional and whose citizens now enjoy total freedom to purchase, possess, carry, and conceal firearms without any licenses or other permission slips necessary. It may or may not surprise you that the places which keep their citizens disarmed have high crime rates because criminals can prey unimpeded, whereas the places that do not restrict the right to carry a firearm enjoy much lower crime rates because criminals know that their potential prey might be armed.

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Legal Terminology:

MAY ISSUE: The law sets up requirements to apply for a license to carry a concealed weapon, and leaves it up to the discretion of the issuing officials (the sheriff, for example) as to whether the applicant should receive the license.

SHALL ISSUE: The law sets up requirements for issuing a license to carry a concealed weapon (commonly just a background check and a small fee to cover administrative costs, but sometimes there are other hoops to jump through as well), and as long as the applicant meets all of those requirements the issuing official is required by law to issue the license.

DE FACTO: Legal term (Latin) that means “in fact” or “in reality”, which is regardless of what the law actually says (see DE JURE, below). For example: officially sanctioned racial discrimination around the time of the passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964 was still common practice even though the letter of the law no longer allowed it, and this is referred to as “de facto discrimination”. Similarly, some states have passed MAY ISSUE concealed carry licensing laws, and officials in some cities severely abuse their discretion and almost never issue the licenses: such cities have what is referred to as a “de facto ban” on firearms carry.

DE JURE: Legal term (Latin) that means “in law”. This refers to what the law actually says. When a law specifically states that carrying a weapon is illegal, this is a “de jure ban” on firearms carry.


License Abbreviations:

For ease of communication, a license to carry a concealed weapon has several commonly-used abbreviations that mean substantially the same thing. They are often used interchangeably, but technically come separately from the actual wording of a given state’s law. For clarity, I will use only the term “CCL” (except when I don’t!) The abbreviatons that come to mind:

CCP: “Concealed Carry Permit”. Some states do refer to it as a “permit”, which makes many gun rights advocates bristle (the implication of the word “permit” being that the government graciously allows you to carry a concealed weapon and can arbitrarily revoke that permission at any time: along the same line of reasoning, as a fully qualified driver of legal age you are not issued a permit to drive a car, you are issued a license to drive a car whether the BMV clerk likes your face or not).

CCL: “Concealed Carry License”

CCW: “Carry a Concealed Weapon”. Technically refers to the crime of doing so. The term “CCW” is used so frequently to refer to the license to do so (this primarily originates from police officers habitually using the jargon of their profession) that although it is technically incorrect, everyone will understand what is meant if you say “I have my CCW” and only a handful of sticklers will ever call you on it.

CHL: “Concealed Handgun License. Many states make the distinction that you are licensed to conceal a handgun, but not a rifle or shotgun.

CPL: “Concealed Pistol License”. Same as note for CHL, the only difference being that some states use the word “pistol” instead of the word “handgun” in their weapons control definitions.

CWP: “Concealed Weapon Permit”. Some states do count weapons other than handguns as legally concealable.

CWL: “Concealed Weapons License”. Same note as for CWP.


Reciprocity:

Each state has different concealed carry laws, but many of them are similar enough that most states have entered into “reciprocity” agreements to honor the concealed carry licenses issued by other states that have substantially similar CCL laws. Check the website of your state’s Attorney General for the most up-to-date reciprocity agreements. If you carry a firearm in a state with which your state has a reciprocity agreement, they will honor your license but you are required to abide by the laws of the state you are actually in. An excellent resource is http://www.handgunlaw.us, which attempts to provide up-to-date information to travelers about firearm laws.

National reciprocity could become a reality in the near future. Under this proposed federal law, all states which allow concealed carry will be required to also recognize the CCL of any other state’s residents. Such legislation has been introduced numerous times since the mid-1990s, but in recent years the general public’s attitude towards firearms, combined with the Supreme Court’s recent rulings (after ducking the issue for many years) has caused the issue to start gaining enough momentum to become a plausible possibility.


Justifiable Use of Force:

Carrying a firearm comes with grave responsibility. It is not legally justifiable to use lethal force to protect your property. Force used must be appropriate to the threat. The legal standard is whether a reasonable person in the same circumstances would have good cause to believe that grievous bodily harm or death is imminent, and then only uses an amount of force necessary to prevent it.

An unarmed man shouting, “I’m going to kill you!” from across the street is unquestionably threatening you, but he does not present an imminent threat, so you would not be justified in shooting him from across the street even if you and all witnesses genuinely believe him. An attacker who begins to flee no longer presents an imminent threat, so if you were to shoot him in the back you would very likely face murder charges. A man who attacks you with fists (even though common sense tells us death is a possible outcome) does not present an imminent threat of “death or grievous bodily harm” in the eyes of the law. Introducing a firearm into an altercation escalates the severity of the situation, and what may have begun as a fistfight (even if you didn’t start it) can easily turn into murder charges.

What about using lethal force to protect a stranger? It is not my place to dictate to you what your sense of right and wrong should be, but I will apprise you of the risks involved. The law does generally allow the use of force in defense of another, but the person you are protecting must truly be a victim and not at all responsible for the situation. If you happen upon a large man beating a small woman, your natural sense of right and wrong would probably urge you to intervene, and if you were to do so and end up having to shoot the man you may indeed be a hero. Or, you may have blundered into a domestic violence situation, and the woman you thought you were saving turns on you when you shoot her lover and lies to the police about what exactly happened, leaving you holding the literal smoking gun in a murder trial. Another possibility is that before you arrived the woman may have attempted to murder the man, leading him to fight her off in self-defense, after which you blunder along and assist the criminal by shooting the victim. The point is it’s not easy to know another person’s circumstances. As cold as it sounds, you must strongly consider the option of using force to protect only yourself and your loved ones.

Above all, though, you need to rehearse scenarios in your head and practice in drills so you aren’t left completely dumbfounded about what to do if a lethal attack should present itself against you. These scenarios must become part of your thinking, and you must train to act on them, because a true attacker will not give you time to debate with yourself. As the saying goes, when a crisis occurs we do not rise to the occasion, but fall back to the level of our training. If you are decided that you are willing to use lethal force to protect yourself or your loved ones, you must be prepared to act instantly. If you are not sure if you are willing to use lethal force in extreme circumstances, you need to do some soul-searching and come to terms with the possibility, or you need to not carry a firearm.

If ever you are forced to use your firearm in self-defense, you are not shooting specifically to kill: your only concern is that you are shooting to stop the threat. Once the threat is stopped, retreat if feasible and call the police.


Situational Awareness:

Your greatest defense to any threat is to be aware of it. Predators are searching for easy prey: just like lions will try to choose the slowest most defenseless members of a herd, the easiest prey to a robber or rapist is a victim that is not paying attention.

To this end, Col. Jeff Cooper came up with the Color Code system of awareness:

CONDITION WHITE: Completely relaxed and unaware of surroundings. Most people who die due to car wrecks or violence were in Condition White: they never even knew they were in danger until it was too late. The only time you should ever be in Condition White is while you are behind locked doors at home. Cooper described it as, “If you are attacked in White you will probably die unless your adversary is totally inept.”

CONDITION YELLOW: Relaxed alertness. You are paying attention to your surroundings and the people in them, without any anxiety and without any specific threat identified. You should be in Condition Yellow any time you are outside your home, and any time you are armed. Cooper classified this as, “you bring yourself to the understanding that your life may be in danger and that you may have to do something about it.”

CONDITION ORANGE: Heightened attentiveness due to some specific alert. You have identified a potential threat due to their suspicious behavior, or something about the person or the circumstances does not “feel right”. Cooper described it as, “you have determined upon a specific adversary and are prepared to take action which may result in his death, but you are not in a lethal mode.”

CONDITION RED: An attack is likely imminent from a specific identified threat, and you are mentally prepared to defend yourself. Cooper described it as, “you are in a lethal mode and will shoot if circumstances warrant."

Always trust your intuition: if something does not feel right, your subconscious has picked up on clues you are not consciously aware of. Do not ignore or suppress your intuition: it’s usually correct. Do not disregard your intuition because you are afraid of offending somebody: your safety is much more important than a stranger’s feelings. A fantastic book on the subject of predicting violence is The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker (though you have to ignore his anti-gun slant).

You should practice your skills of observation any time you are out in public. This is not paranoia. It is not, nor should it be, a state of anxiety: your goal should not be to imagine that every person you see is probably going to attack you. Rather, you should be open to what your senses tell you about your surroundings. You go about your life, relaxed but aware of what is happening around you. Besides, people-watching is fun!


Warning Shots:

Movies, where many gun scenes are primarily dialogue-driven, have taught many people that it’s appropriate to hold somebody at gunpoint, or shoot them in the leg to disable them, or to fire a “warning shot” so they know you’re really serious. Here in reality, you should not be firing warning shots. The only time you should EVER be firing (or even pointing) a gun at somebody if you are legally justified in using lethal force. If the situation does not justify lethal force, you are not justified in drawing your weapon.

One shouted verbal warning is appropriate: obviously it would be ideal if drawing a firearm is enough to end the encounter, but you should never count on this because if the assailant defies your expectation of surrender you will be caught off-guard when he attacks. If your assailant does not immediately turn and run when faced with a firearm, they’ve made it very clear that they intend to overpower and kill you. Any ”warning shots” on your part, then, should be directed at center mass, with any necessary follow-up “warning shots” directed at the head until the moment you are no longer in reasonable fear for your life.


Less-Lethal Ammunition:

Sometimes incorrectly referred to or marketed as “Non-lethal,” but the correct term is “less-lethal” because although the ammunition is designed to inflict pain rather than being designed to kill, death is always a possibility. Such ammunition reduces the chances when used at appropriate ranges, but at close (self-defense) ranges such rounds still cause significant blunt trauma that can easily be fatal. These rounds have their appropriate uses in police and military situations in which it is desirable to incapacitate a target without outright killing them.

Although it is generally legal for civilians to purchase less-lethal ammunition, their use by civilians is highly questionable for a couple of reasons. Firstly, remember those four safety rules we keep harping on? If lethal force is not justified, then firing a gun at somebody is not justified. Secondly, these rounds are designed to incapacitate the target through pain compliance, which is far outside the realm of appropriate use in self-defense shooting. It would be highly negligent, and legally actionable, to maim or kill somebody with a firearm in a stated attempt to merely cause them pain or incapacitate them in a situation where lethal force is not justified.


How much ammo to carry:

It’s been said that you only have too much ammo if you’re drowning or on fire. At the very least, you should have one reload for your carry gun. If you’re carrying a semi-automatic and the magazine fails (bad spring, floorplate gets knocked off, etc), it doesn’t matter if it’s holding five rounds or fifteen because they will no longer be usable in the timeframe you need them. Nobody in the history of the world has ever survived a gunfight and then went on to say, “I wish I hadn’t been carrying that extra magazine!”
Last edited by painiac on Sat Mar 29, 2014 2:44 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: painiac's Essential Guide to Concealed Carry

Post by painiac » Sat Mar 29, 2014 2:31 am

Concealment:

There is always a tradeoff between concealment and accessibility. The more concealed a firearm is, the harder it is to remove from that concealment. Your firearm needs to be holstered somewhere that it is not immediately obvious at a glance, but can be drawn and employed in no more than a second.
It is natural to assume, when you first start carrying concealed, that everyone will notice. A great exercise once you start carrying is to wear your gun and go walk around a store for awhile: we call this “The Wal-Mart Walk”. You will quickly discover that members of the general public are in their own little world, absorbed with their own concerns and barely even noticing that another person is nearby beyond perhaps veering out of their path or maybe nodding acknowledgement. It is so far off people’s radar that a non-policeman would be carrying a gun in their presence that it does not even occur to them to look for one. Even “open carry” proponents who carry openly on their belts report that probably 9 out of 10 people never even give them or their firearm a second glance. Almost all of the very few people who do notice the gun jump to the conclusion that the person carrying it is an off-duty police officer.

For this reason, I wear my carry gun on a holster attached to my belt (which I have found to be the most comfortable carry method for me), throw a loose button-up shirt or a coat over it, and find that it is concealed adequately. During warmer months, I use an inside-the-waistband holster, which is slightly less comfortable at times but allows me to conceal with a t-shirt instead of an over-shirt.

Depending on your clothing style, some type of cover garment will likely be necessary. Shirts with irregular patterns (like Hawaiian shirts, if you can stomach them) are best at breaking up the outline of a protruding gun, but dark solid colors work fine too. Avoid patterns with stripes because straight lines accentuate the irregular outline of the gun underneath them. Overt camouflage patterns, though excellent at hiding a gun outline, will make you stand out in most places frequented by people. If you look military or “mall ninja”, people might just assume you have a weapon. The best “urban camouflage” for blending into everyday life is casual dress clothes in solid drab colors. The most important thing, though, is to not worry about it too much! If you slink around like you have something to hide, you will draw attention to yourself and your gun. If, instead, you go about your lawful business confidently, you will blend right in and nobody will have any reason to even give you a second glance.

Concealability is actually not the most important aspect: the comfort of your chosen carry method is going to be the most critical requirement. If your holstered gun is uncomfortable, every time you are about to leave the house you will be tempted to leave it behind. Obviously, a gun that isn’t with you is useless in an emergency. Emergencies have a decidedly strong tendency to happen whether you are prepared or not!


Open Carry:

Open carry is the act of carrying a firearm without concealing it. This is primarily done by vocal right-to-carry advocates, though it is often done merely for comfort or convenience. In many states, open carry is completely legal. This is a personal decision, and I'll stay away from the heated politics aspect: the only thing I’ll say about it is to always also carry a hidden digital voice recorder because once in awhile somebody will summon the police about “a man with a gun” to which they will definitely respond, and having a recording of the encounter might end up being your only protection. Most police officers understand that people with concealed carry licenses are the good guys and have no problem with citizens carrying guns, but a very small percentage are belligerent bully types. Know your rights well, and if confronted by a police officer it is critical that you stay calm and polite: do not allow the encounter to escalate into a shouting match, and try not to come across as smug or condescending even though you are right. Arrogance on your part may provoke the bully-type of officer into trying to knock you down a few pegs by arresting you and hammering you with add-on charges like "resisting arrest", knowing full well that you will have to hand over a small fortune to your lawyer to clean up the mess.

Additionally, many police officers mistakenly think that a concealed carry license requires that the gun actually be concealed rather than simply legally allowing a gun to be concealed (and apparently in a few localities the law actually does make this requirement). An argument with a police officer about the law and especially about a gun at the scene is never in your best interest and will almost never play out in your favor even if you are completely correct. If open carry does appeal to you, get involved online with the open carry community so you know what to expect and how to protect yourself.


Spotting a Concealed Weapon:

This is a useful skill for picking out the rare bad guy, but it’s also fun practice to see if you can spot any of the other more numerous law-abiding concealed carry licensees or plain-clothes law enforcement officers. Hone your skills of observation, as well as becoming aware of the most obvious clues that give you away so that you can avoid them. Ideally, nobody will know you have a gun in your pocket unless you’re unhappy to see them!

Adjusting or checking: Being a security device, people feel the need to touch the gun occasionally to ensure that it is still in place instead of lost or visible, and occasionally the gun’s position needs to be adjusted for comfort (especially after doing any movement that could have exposed or shifted the gun’s position). Watch for this especially after the person bends over, reaches out for something, exits a vehicle, or steps off a flight of stairs.

Blading: When a person is aware that they are carrying a gun, there’s a (usually) subconscious movement to bring their arm in closer to the gun and to turn their gun-side away from other people when passing them or standing in front of them (such as in a checkout line), either to hide or protect the gun from them. This turning at an angle to the other person is known as “blading”, and the unnatural angle is extremely obvious to a knowledgeable onlooker.

Holding: When running across a street or through rain, people will almost always place a hand or forearm on their holstered gun to keep it from flopping around or falling off.

Handedness: It helps to know that almost everyone carries their gun on their strong-hand side. You can usually make a reasonable guess at whether someone is right-handed or left-handed: most people will wear their watch on their off-hand wrist. Even without a watch, by observing someone for a few moments you will probably see them do something that tips the scales in favor of their being right- or left-handed. A secondary clue that goes along with this is that people tend to wear their cell-phone on their strong-hand side, so if you’re pretty sure somebody is right-handed but they have their cell-phone on their left side, it may be because they already have a gun on their right side.

Holster bulging: This one can be quite obvious (particularly with movement) and it helps to know where to look. The next section of this chapter details holster types and their locations. If you wear a dress coat or sport jacket as a concealment garment, a tailor can make appropriate adjustments to minimize the appearance of bulging.

Drooping clothes: Since guns are heavy blocks of metal, if they are not well-secured by a belt they will almost always cause a noticeable amount of drooping of clothing. Criminals almost never use holsters (because they can more easily ditch an illegal gun if they catch police notice, without having a telltale empty holster), preferring instead to stick the gun in their waistband, pocket, or even in the hood of a sweatshirt, so watch for obvious weight and pronounced drooping in these areas. A gun in a pants pocket or waistband will shift the pants downward on that side, making one pant-leg appear longer than the other; one in a jacket pocket will cause the jacket to hang down asymmetrically on the gun side; a gun in a shoulder holster will flop around with movement, and may protrude noticeably in the front or especially in the back. Even a gun holstered on a good stiff gun-belt will pull the belt slightly down, and will have a tendency to catch any cover garment with movement so that it does not fall evenly about the waist. Walking at any speed will always make the gun bounce a little with its holster, even if secured well to a belt.

Uneven gait: Walking with a weight attached to one side will typically alter a person’s gait, with a shorter stride on the gun side. They may also keep their gun-side arm closer to their body and avoid swinging it as far as the opposite arm while walking.

Clothing style: On average, legal concealed carriers tend not to dress like dirtbags or gangbangers: most of us are middle-class to upper-middle-class, working in blue-collar or professional jobs, and dress the part: in other words, very likely to be wearing nice casual clothing or work clothes that aren’t ratty-looking. Many of us, though, tend to dress very similar to off-duty police officers: cargo pants, over-shirts, and especially “tactical” clothing brands like 5.11 or Tru-Spec are quite popular in this subculture, as are related accessories such as hats, impact-resistant sunglasses, belt pouches (especially magazine pouches), and quality folding knives with pocket clips. Clothing styled with a hunting camouflage pattern (such as a hat in Mossy Oak) may be a tipoff, but not a great one: you can definitely rest assured that a person wearing hunting camo in any amount owns rifles and shotguns, and probably a handgun or two. There is a lot of overlap between hunters and “gun guys”. However, a large percentage of straight-up hunters or trap shooters (particularly wealthy ones) are sportsmen with little interest in defensive shooting (“the most dangerous game” not falling within their area of hunting interest), and a surprisingly large chunk of these groups see no need to carry a handgun for self-defense.

Inappropriate clothing: Cover garments that do not match a person’s style or are inappropriate for the weather are also big giveaways, such as a jacket or over-shirt in warm weather, or a winter coat in cold weather that is left unzipped (allowing easy access to the gun). Fanny packs also fall into this category: unless someone is a tourist on a beach or at an amusement park, a fanny pack is disproportionately likely to contain a firearm (but this fact is still not generally known outside of the gun culture, so the “obviousness” of this method is frequently over-stated).

Demeanor: People who care enough about preparedness and safety to carry a gun tend to be quiet, reserved, confident, and alert. You are not at all likely to see such a person strutting around being belligerent, shouting, or picking fights. They will always have an eye on their surroundings, and will probably go out of their way to sit or stand with their back near a wall rather than staying exposed out in the open. Something a little more subtle that still manages to make them stand out among the general populace is that they will always make eye contact with strangers. This differs somewhat from off-duty police officers, who usually have all of these qualities but also have an intense scrutiny in their gaze that is an unavoidable side-effect of their profession: just ask any experienced waitress and she will be able to immediately point out any off-duty cops in the room.

This calm demeanor of legal carriers contrasts sharply with those of street punks and gangbanger wannabes, who will carry guns in an obvious manner (and brandish them at the slightest imagined provocation) for an un-earned status boost. As noted above, they rarely if ever use holsters. These people, obviously, should be avoided. You should never hang out in places such people frequent.

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Re: painiac's Essential Guide to Concealed Carry

Post by painiac » Sat Mar 29, 2014 2:36 am

Holster Selection:

Trainer Paul Gomez eloquently outlined the essential requirements of any holster. You will need a stout belt that is specifically designed to be a “gun belt”, as even the thickest leather belt from the department store will start to fold, bend, droop, and stretch. Many companies make gun belts, and almost all will serve your needs.

The holster must completely cover the trigger guard, to prevent anything from getting into it and activating the trigger. The holster must mount firmly to your belt. It must allow for a full firing grip on the gun while it is still in the holster (with your trigger finger indexed along the frame upon drawing), so that when you pull it out you do not need to fumble around with “getting a better grip”. The holster also needs to stay open after the gun is removed, so that it can easily be replaced quickly to free your hands or to allow for one-handed reloading if such should become necessary.

It is very important that the holster you choose be designed for the gun you want to carry with it. When it comes to holsters, the adage is that “one size fits all” actually means “one size fits none”. Any universal holster will not hold your gun securely, and will not be able to position any gun optimally for a fast draw. Additionally, universal holsters are cheap because they are poorly made and use cheap materials that will not stand up to long use. The holster needs to be of good quality and fit your gun well. Many holsters are mass-produced and available off-the-shelf, for a reasonable price, which were designed for specific handgun models. You could also spring for a custom-made holster once you know what your requirements are and how various holsters work out for you, but these get expensive. A custom holster will be necessary if your carry gun of choice is very uncommon. You will find that a holster is rarely a one-time purchase: it’s common for guys who are into pistols to end up with a box or drawer full of holsters they don’t use anymore.


Holster Types:

Waistband (“gangsta carry”), no holster: You should never carry a firearm like this. Not having a holster means your trigger can get caught by clothing (particularly while putting the gun away), so it creates a huge risk of a negligent discharge into a very sensitive area (an occurrence that seems to appear in the news at least once a year), not to mention the high likelihood of the gun falling out of your pants. Even if this does not happen at a particularly inopportune time, a dropped gun is never a good thing. An unsecured gun also requires frequent checking and adjustment, which makes it both uncomfortable and obvious on top of being inherently unsafe.
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Inside-the-Waistband Holsters: Abbreviated as “IWB”, these holsters are probably the greatest balance between concealability and accessibility. Most of the gun is down inside the waistband of your pants, with loops securing it to your belt. Most of these holsters are able to be removed without undoing your belt. To comfortably wear an IWB holster, it’s recommended to buy pants with a waist at least two inches bigger than what you normally wear. Many “tuckable” models are available which allow you to tuck your shirt between the belt clip and the holster, which make it easy to conceal while wearing business or formal attire. The only one I’ve tried is the CrossBreed SuperTuck, and I am quite happy with it.
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Belt Holsters: Also known as “Outside-the-Waistband” or “OWB”, these offer secure placement and the greatest accessibility at some cost to concealment. Some type of over-garment is necessary if you wish to conceal it.

Paddle Holsters: This is another type of Outside-the-Waistband holster, so-named because of the paddle-shaped portion that slips over your belt and the waist of your pants and rests against your hip, spreading out the gun’s weight. Paddle holsters can be quickly donned or removed without undoing your belt, making them ideal for people who need to take off their gun throughout the day. Can be very comfortable, but for large and heavy handguns, a poorly-designed paddle might dig uncomfortably into your thigh. This is not something you’ll know until you try it.
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Pocket Holsters: Suitable for small light handguns only (sometimes called “hold-out” or “backup” pistols), a pocket holster allows carrying a handgun in your pocket without the telltale outline or uncomfortable pressure points. Access can be quick and unobtrusive, especially if you carry it in your rear pants pocket where a mugger would expect you to be reaching for your wallet.

Belly band: A pocketed elastic band that wraps around your abdomen to hug the gun very closely to your body and break up its outline. This is a deep concealment method that works even under a slightly-loose shirt. You may love it, or you may find it very uncomfortable.

Ankle holsters: I find these to be extremely uncomfortable, but if you find they don’t bother you they can be a good way to carry a small light backup piece. You need fairly wide pant legs. Although concealment is quite good because people rarely look at your ankles, strapping a weight to one ankle will alter your gait. They are very good for accessing your pistol while seated in a vehicle with a seatbelt on, which is something most other carry methods cannot boast. For this reason, some police officers favor it.

Shoulder holsters: use shoulder straps, and require an over-shirt or jacket. The straps distribute the weight well, but the gun frequently flops around enough that they are fairly easy to spot (particularly from behind). If not well-made, the straps can be uncomfortable and require frequent adjustment. Drawing from a shoulder holster requires reaching and pulling at an unnatural angle, but practice will overcome this slight speed handicap. The main advantages are that the gun is easily accessible while seated in a vehicle, and is as easy as a jacket to don and remove throughout the day.

Off-body carry: Total concealability is possible by having the gun in a purse, portfolio, briefcase, etc. This method works with any clothing style, especially professional attire when a suit coat is not practical and in hot weather. The two downsides to off-body carry are the likelihood of having to set the gun down and possibly not having it right at hand if it’s needed, and the slower access time even when you are carrying it.

Fanny packs: Taking the off-body concealment advantage and strapping it around your waist is a great compromise, so fanny packs are a popular method of carrying a gun. They allow for comfortable carry that is essentially in plain sight. I just can’t bring myself to wear one…
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Vests and other concealment clothing: A few companies make vests specifically designed for carrying concealed, with holsters sewn into them. They act as a cover garment without making you too warm. Vests often look out of place, though, unless you have a camera strapped around your neck and/or are wearing a safari hat. Like fanny packs, a vest is a good tipoff to the minority of people who are “in-the-know” that the wearer is probably concealing a firearm. Pants with sewn-in holsters are also becoming popular.


Holster Material: Leather vs. Nylon vs. Kydex:

Leather: Traditionally, holsters were made out of leather. Even today, leather is still popular and has that certain flair to it. Leather is a durable, comfortable material that skilled hands can shape to the form of your weapon. It does absorb moisture (sweat), though, which will be a problem if you don’t keep up on your preventative maintenance.

Nylon is light, water-resistant, and reasonably durable but not at all form-fitting. Unless the holster comes from a custom maker and/or has Kydex inserts, I recommend you pass on nylon. By all means check them out, but be very critical. Usually, nylon holsters are of the very cheap universal variety that do not hold the gun securely and have a needlessly loose fit to your belt.

Kydex is a hard, somewhat springy, durable polymer that is easy to mold closely to any shape by heating. By molding to the shape of the gun, a Kydex holster (or Kydex insert) will hold a gun with enough tension to prevent it from falling out of the holster, while allowing the gun to be drawn without having to manipulate a strap or release. The downside to this is that it wears down the gun’s finish at contact points faster than any other holster material. Also, being plastic, the holster will break if you ever find yourself wrestling with a bad guy for control of your holstered gun. Kydex is ideal for spare magazine pouches, and also works pretty well for knives.

Any gun that is repeatedly rubbed against any material (whether leather, nylon, Kydex, or anything else) will inevitably begin to show worn-down spots in the finish. These spots are known as “holster wear”. Don’t fret about them: they add character. If you love a gun so much that you want it to stay in mint condition, buy a different gun to carry and leave your “safe queen” in the safe!

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Re: painiac's Essential Guide to Concealed Carry

Post by painiac » Sat Mar 29, 2014 2:38 am

Holster positions:

Imagine your waist as a clock face, with 12 o’clock being in front at your belt buckle, and 6 o’clock being the middle of your back. This is used to communicate the various holster positions. These clock positions are not precise and this list is certainly not exclusive, but the numbers serve as a very good general guide. Finding the best place for you, considering your body shape and your preferences, takes a little experimenting.

Whichever position you choose, practice your draw from concealment daily with an unloaded gun. You can even dedicate a safe magazine and add weight to it so your gun feels the same on the draw (this is a great use for an old magazine that doesn’t work well anymore). Start your draw slowly and then gradually build up speed so you get the proper movements down smoothly. Remember: slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. A practiced draw that is ingrained in muscle memory will overcome any of the “slower to draw from this position” comments I make below. If you carry in different positions based on weather or other clothing considerations, you will need to practice both draws consistently.

12 o’clock: Known as a “groin holster”, where the gun is mostly below the waistline. This can be accessible with a large range of clothing styles (such as when a cover garment is not practical), but is by necessity a deep method of concealment so the gun is not as quick to access. You will also look like a weirdo when you have to adjust the gun’s position in public. I admit that the thought of somebody plunging their hand down the front of their pants when confronted with a mugger makes me giggle. “Thunderwear” is one such groin holster.

1 to 2 o’clock (10 to 11 o’clock for lefties): Also known as “appendix carry”, this is the fastest point to draw from because it requires the least amount of arm movement. Additionally, it’s more difficult for somebody to sneak up behind you and make a grab for your holstered gun. Keep in mind, though, that many disarms occur with a gun that is already drawn. The downsides are that this position is not possible if you have a gut, and even if you do not it will be uncomfortable to sit down if the holster is not positioned carefully. If you want to appendix carry, look into holsters that are specifically designed for it. Women will find even more concealment potential than men in this position when wearing a loose shirt, for two obvious reasons.

2 to 4 o’clock (8 to 11 o’clock for lefties): This position makes the gun very accessible to your draw side and mostly out of the way, at a slight penalty to concealment because a gun on your pelvis is pushed outward somewhat from the contour of your body. Nonetheless, this is one of the most comfortable carry positions because you do not sit back on the gun or bend forward into it. Draw from this position is one of the fastest, but is difficult when seated or crouching. The downside is that if you have to draw with your weak hand due to an injury to your strong-arm side, this places the gun as far from that hand as it could be, and at a very awkward draw angle. Some people (myself included) prefer that a gun in this position have the “FBI cant”, which means the holster is canted (tilted) forward 15 degrees. This does add a very slight time penalty to your draw. However, the FBI cant makes it easier and more comfortable to draw from a seated or crouched position, slightly easier to draw with the opposite hand from the front, and makes the gun more concealable under a cover garment because the grip points upward more in line with your body instead of straight out behind you.

5 o’clock (7 o’clock for lefties): Also known as “kidney carry”, this position offers excellent concealment from the front because it does not protrude from the side of your body. Unfortunately, it is one of the slowest draws because it requires the largest amount of arm motion to swing back to it and then bring the gun forward.

6 o’clock: “Small of back” carry offers the greatest inherent concealment of any belt position with the exception of 12 o’clock deep concealment. Some find this position very comfortable, while others find it intolerably uncomfortable when sitting. If you fall or are pushed backwards onto your gun, it can act as a fulcrum to lever your spinal column over it: for this reason, many police departments tell their officers not to mount any equipment at the 6 o’clock position.

Cross-draw: With a specially-designed holster, some people prefer to have the pistol mounted on their off-hand side (between 9 and 12 o’clock for righties, between 12 and 3 o’clock for lefties) and draw it across their body. The draw is somewhat slowed by the extra movement, but it has several advantages, not the least of which is that it is the only belt-mounted method that leaves the gun readily accessible when seated. A cross-draw holster is on par concealability-wise with appendix carry.
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Re: painiac's Essential Guide to Concealed Carry

Post by 0122358 » Fri May 02, 2014 10:30 pm

Tagged.... :awesome:
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